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Brazil's lower house votes for impeachment process against President Rousseff

Opposition lawmakers in Brazil's lower house have approved impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Her ruling Workers' Party and allies have described the impeachment drive as a "coup."

Opponents of the president gained the necessary 342 votes - a two-third majority in the 513-seat chamber - to secure the next step in the impeachment process.

The dramatic ballot took place with delegates voting one by one, each announcing their decision - often accompanied by a heated short speech - to the packed assembly.

The ruling Workers' Party conceded defeat moments before the lower house approved of the Senate's ability to decide on impeachment proceedings, with the party caucus leader saying it was inevitable.

The vote marked the first legislative signal that the president may be tried before the Senate over manipulating budgetary accounts before she was re-elected in 2014.

The impeachment drive will now move to the Senate, where a separate vote could see Rousseff suspended for six months pending an investigation and trial, handing over the presidency to Vice President Michel Temer for the duration of the proceedings.

A raucous debate preceded the vote, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle interrupting the debate with patriotic anthems or singing parodies of Brazil's first female president.

The political showdown was broadcast live on television to the country of 204 million, with popular TV shows and football games being cancelled to air the vote.

The opposition's drive to impeach Dilma has been described by her and her supporters as a "coup."

"The fight is going to continue now in the streets and in the federal Senate," said Jose Guimaraes, who leads the Workers' Party in the lower house. "We lost because the coup-mongers were stronger."


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