Brazilian President's situation fragile after report of corruption

19 Mai, 2017, 17:36 | Author: Marc Bacque

The protests materialised hours after Brazil's Supreme Court authorised an investigation into allegations Temer encouraged the payment of bribes to a former top lawmaker convicted earlier this year of graft.

"I will not resign", he said. I repeat: "I will not resign", he announced angrily, wagging his finger, in a brief televised statement to the nation.

Several thousand people demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, shouting "Temer out!" while about 2,000 held a similar rally in the capital Brasilia. Both protests ended in minor clashes with riot police.

Globo reported that Temer was recorded endorsing payments to former House of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha.

There were also signs that his ruling center-right coalition was in danger, with some allies calling for his resignation. Culture Minister, Roberto Freire, and Minister of Cities, Bruno Araujo, have already announced they would be leaving the government.

The Supreme Court piled on the pressure by greenlighting a formal investigation into Temer.

A new impeachment push would come less than a year after the last president, Dilma Rousseff, was forced out on charges of violating budget laws, bringing Temer to power through a process that many Brazilians view as politicized.

According to Batista, Temer appeared to be satisfied with what was said, lowered his voice, and purportedly said, "Look, you've got to keep that up".

Even the PSDB party, which is allied with Temer's PMDB, vowed to abandon him if the allegations were proven to be true. Investors were panicked by allegations of witness tampering involving the president.

Within 90 minutes of opening, Brazil's main Ibovespa stock index dropped 10% and trading was stopped for 30 minutes. It closed 8.8 percent down.

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The news sent Brazilian stock and currency markets tumbling and raised doubts that Congress would pass Temer's austerity measures.

"I will not step down", Temer said in a televised address at the presidential palace in Brasilia.

The release of the recordings made by Batista as part of his plea-bargaining agreement with federal prosecutors triggered eight separate requests for the impeachment of the President. It has been interpreted as referring to bribes given to Cunha to make sure that he didn't spill secrets to prosecutors himself.

"I did not buy the silence of anyone", Temer said, referring to the allegations made against him.

The statement was made during a press conference, nearly 24 hours after recordings of Temer and JBS owner, Joesley Batista, showed that the President knew, and to some ears approved, the pay-offs handed out by Batista to former Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha.

Globo published what seemed to be pictures showing men delivering a suitcase of cash for Neves.

Until now Temer has managed to stay above the fray.

If he resigns he would no longer have his case handled by the Supreme Court, but be moved to what are seen as far more aggressive, quicker-acting lower courts.

"Nobody right now knows what to do or what is going to happen", said a senior aide to party leadership in Congress.

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