Dilma Rousseff impeachment moves up to senate after congress votes to remove Brazilian president

Catherine Neilan
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Brazilians Hold Rallies For And Against Impeachment Of President On Day Of Crucial Vote
More than 60 per cent of the country support Rousseff's impeachment (Source: Getty)

Brazil has taken a step closer to the impeachment of its President Dilma Rousseff, with more than two-thirds of the congress voting for the case to be taken to the senate.

The vote, which was overseen by lower house speaker and political rival Eduardo Cunha, ended late on Sunday night with 367 of the 513 deputies backing impeachment. There were seven abstentions and two absences, and 137 deputies voted against the move.

Rousseff is acccused of manipulating public finances to boost her prospects for re-election in 2014. She's also been tainted by the corruption scandal involving billions of dollars in bribes at state-run oil company Petrobas. All this has taken place against a backdrop of the South American country's worst economic crisis in decades.

Read more: Brazil is caught between the rule of law and the rule of politics

As the crucial 342nd vote was cast, taking the level above the required threshold, the chamber erupted into cheers with members singing "Eu sou Brasileiro", a football chant that has been adopted by the anti-government protest, local media reports.

The vote, which has effectively deposed the Brazilian head of state less than halfway through her term, was watched by 10s of millions of people.

Once the senate agrees to consider the motion, Rousseff will have to step aside for 180 days and her Workers party - which has ruled Brazil since 2002, previously under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva - will be temporarily replaced by a centre-right administration led by vice president Michel Temer.

Polls suggest more than 60 per cent of Brazil's 200m people support impeaching Rousseff.

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