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News > Latin America

Brazilian Supreme Court Suspends Impeachment Proceedings

  • A demonstrator holds a sign that reads “Dilma Stays” at a protest against the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil, Dec. 8, 2015.

    A demonstrator holds a sign that reads “Dilma Stays” at a protest against the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil, Dec. 8, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 December 2015

Justice Fachin said the court must first decide the legality of holding a secret ballot to choose the special committee before proceedings can continue.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin suspended Tuesday night the work of the special committee created by the Chamber of Deputies to investigate if impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will move forward.

Fachin's ruling effectively freezes the work of the committee until the Supreme Court can analyze and rule on the request from the Communist Party of Brazil for the court to consider the legality of the secret voting procedure adopted by Eduardo Cunha, speaker of the lower house.

Earlier Tuesday, a group of lawmakers who back the impeachment of the president won an internal election held by the Chamber of Deputies to determine the composition of the special committee.

The vote was done via secret ballot, to the chagrin of pro-government lawmakers.

The Supreme Court justice said he was issuing this ruling, in effect an injunction, in order to avoid a situation where the court would have to invalidate decisions related to the impeachment after they have been taken.

OPINION: Brazil: Can the Workers’ Party Surmount Its Current Crisis?

The Chamber of Deputies concluded the controversial secret vote before Fachin issued his ruling.

The Communist Party of Brazil argues that the special committee members must be officially nominated by the party leaders and not be elected via secret ballot.

Lawmakers voted 272-199 for a list of committee members drawn up by pro-impeachment members of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the biggest party in Rousseff's governing coalition.

However the PMDB is split on the question of impeaching President Rousseff.

The leader of the PMDB in the lower house, Leonardo Picciani, backs Rousseff and would have likely presented an anti-impeachment list of candidates for the special committee, had he been given the opportunity.

Justice Fachin has furthered ordered Cunha to present information regarding the election of the special committee within 24 hours.

Only 39 of the 65 members of the special committee were elected Tuesday. With Fachin's ruling, any further elections are suspended until a ruling is issued by the court.

A ruling from the Supreme Court on the matter is expected on December 16, 2015.

Supporters of the government maintain that the impeachment proceedings constitute a parliamentary coup aimed at overturning the results of the 2014 presidential election that saw Rousseff reelected.

WATCH: Brazil: Lawyers Call Impeachment Proceedings Illegal

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