In Brazil Congress to vote on trial for President Temer

Temer, a deeply unpopular veteran of the center-right PMDB party, is accused of taking bribes from a meatpacking industry executive.

  • Published: , Refreshed:
Brazilian President Michel Temer could face a corruption trial -- he should find out his fate on Wednesday play

Brazilian President Michel Temer could face a corruption trial -- he should find out his fate on Wednesday

(AFP/File)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

Brazil's lower house of Congress is set to vote Wednesday on whether to put President Michel Temer on trial for corruption, threatening the country with its second leadership crisis in a year.

Temer, a deeply unpopular veteran of the center-right PMDB party, is accused of taking bribes from a meatpacking industry executive.

If two-thirds of deputies accept the charge, he will be suspended for 180 days and sent to face trial at the Supreme Court. The upheaval comes 12 months after lawmakers ejected Temer's leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff in an impeachment trial.

Analysts say Temer has enough support to prevent the two-thirds vote, in which case the charge would be thrown out.

But Temer, who could soon face a new corruption charge by top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot, remains vulnerable.

As the highest-profile target in the Operation Car Wash anti-graft probe, which has uncovered bribery and embezzlement throughout Brazil's political class, he has historically low five percent approval ratings.

The Temer camp's main worry is that Wednesday's vote could be delayed, preventing the president from quickly putting the matter behind him.

Opposition lawmakers have threatened not to show up, preventing the required quorum, which is also two-thirds, or 342 deputies. Paul Pimento, from Rousseff's leftist Workers' Party, said any delay would weaken Temer.

"The government doesn't have enough votes to open the session," Pimento told AFP.

"Every day, new information comes in on other corruption cases involving the government. The more of this that comes to the attention of voters and Congress, the greater the chances of us getting the votes to remove Temer."

Canny operator

Temer is alleged to have been the intended recipient of $150,000 in cash that a close aide was caught carrying in a suitcase in Sao Paulo. The money was allegedly part of a steady flow of bribes to Temer from the JBS meatpacking giant.

In a separate investigation, prosecutors cite a secretly recorded late-night meeting between Temer and one of JBS's owners, Joesley Batista. In the recording, Temer allegedly is heard authorizing hush money payments to a onetime senior politician convicted of corruption, Eduardo Cunha.

Batista gave prosecutors the recording as part of his cooperation in a plea deal, one of the many that Car Wash investigators have used to build graft cases.

But Temer has proved a canny operator in Brazil's toxic political landscape.

Rousseff claimed to have been the victim of a coup mounted by the right, including Temer, who was her vice president. Once impeachment proceedings began, she was swiftly pushed out.

Temer, however, has shored up his own teetering coalition with political patronage and support from business interests that back market reforms aimed at strengthening Brazil's tepid recovery from recession.

"Five major parties have already decided to back the president and that alone comes to 200 votes," said an aide.

House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, a Temer ally who would become interim president if a trial started, says he wants the vote to go ahead on time.

"Brazil needs clarity on this. You can't play around with such a serious situation," he told journalists.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.