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  • A man holds a sign that reads 'Bye Darling' in reference to Brazil's Senate President Renan Calheiros, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 4, 2016.

    A man holds a sign that reads 'Bye Darling' in reference to Brazil's Senate President Renan Calheiros, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 4, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 December 2016

The change of leadership in the Senate comes at a crucial moment in Temer's efforts to ram austerity measures through Congress.

Brazil's Supreme Court ruled Monday for the temporary removal of Renan Calheiros as president of the Senate after the top court indicted him last week on charges of embezzlement, a court spokesperson said.

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Justice Marco Aurelio de Mello took up an injunction against Calheiros based on a majority ruling by the court last month that no person indicted for a crime could be in the presidential line of succession.

The head of the Senate is the second in line after the speaker of the lower house, as Brazil does not have a vice president at the moment.

Calheiros can appeal to the full court, but in the meantime, he has to immediately step down as Senate leader and hand over the position to the vice president of the upper chamber, Senator Jorge Vianna of the leftist Workers Party, the spokesperson said.

He also faces 11 investigations for corruption, eight of them for kickbacks in the massive corruption scandal within Petrobras known as the "Car Wash" scandal.

The government's leader in Congress, Romero Juca, said the removal of Calheiros would not alter plans for a Dec. 13 vote on a 20-year cap on federal spending for social programs, a key measure proposed by Temer to alter the social gains made during the 13 years of progressive PT rule.

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