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  • Brazil's President of the Chamber of Deputies Waldir Maranhao speaks during a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil, May 9, 2016.

    Brazil's President of the Chamber of Deputies Waldir Maranhao speaks during a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil, May 9, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 May 2016

Here is what you need to know about Brazil’s new speaker of the house. 

The now suspended speaker of the lower chamber of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who lead the charges to impeach current President Dilma Rousseff, was suspended last week due to charges of obstructing a corruption investigation.

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The man who takes over Cunha’s role as president of the lower house, Waldir Maranhao, is also currently under investigation for corruption, prompting the possibility that the Supreme Court could also order him to step down.

Maranhao, from the Brazilian Progressive party, is currently serving his third straight mandate as an elected official in the chamber of deputies.

Waldir Maranhao represents the state of Maranhao in the northeast of Brazil, and one of the poorest in the country. He was elected to Congress in 2006 with the conservative Progressive Party, and before that he was the Dean of the State's University. He is a veterinarian by training, with a total of US$233,000 in declared assets.

Maranhao is also considered to be a close political ally with the powerful Jose Sarney family from the state of Maranhao, which held close ties with the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil for almost 20 years.

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In 2013, the country’s newly appointed speaker was implicated by Brazilian authorities for his involvement in a fraud scandal, which included diverting state cash for municipal pension funds towards elected elected officials.

Maranhao is also mentioned in the prosecution's original list of 52 lawmakers allegedly involved in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

The Progressive Party, which was founded during the corrupt dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s, is the party most accused of receiving bribes in the worst corporate corruption scandal in Brazil’s history, with 32 members of Congress, named in the investigation.

Maranhao’s political party, PP, was once part of the ruling coalition with Rousseff's Workers' Party but broke away as the momentum in favor of impeachment gathered steam. Maranhao, however, broke ranks with his party and voted against impeachment.

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