Brazil’s Senate voted 59-21 early on Wednesday to accept charges against suspended President Dilma Rousseff and put her on trial for breaking budget laws in an impeachment process that is expected to end 13 years of leftist rule by her Workers Party.
A final verdict could come at the end of the month and will require two thirds of the votes in the 81-member Senate. If Rousseff is convicted and definitively removed from office, interim President Michel Temer will serve out the remainder of her term through 2018.
Rousseff has been accused of spending money without congressional approval and taking out unauthorised loans from state banks to boost the national budget ahead of the 2014 election, when she was re-elected.
Her allies in the Workers’ Party have pointed out that many of the members of the Brazilian congress who have accused her are implicated in corruption cases themselves.
Rousseff is not facing corruption charges in Brazil’s wide-ranging scandal around the state oil company, Petrobras.
But she has been tainted by the scandal, in which her Workers’ Party is accused of lining its campaign war chests with some of the missing money.
If she is removed from office, the interim president, her former running mate Michel Temer, will remain in the presidential chair until the next elections in 2018.
She has accused him of orchestrating a political coup against her.
At the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, Temer drew boos from the crowds as he declared the games open.
There have been various protests against him before the games as well as peaceful protests at a number of Olympic venues.