BRAZIL LEADER VOWS NOT TO RESIGN
A defiant Temer maintains claims of innocence amidst major corruption probe
BRAZIL’S President Michel Temer on Thursday defiantly said he would not resign after the Supreme Court authorised an investigation into allegations he condoned bribes to a potential witness in a major corruption probe.
The investigation raised the possibility Brazil could see a second president fall in less than a year, and sent Brazilian financial markets tumbling on doubts Congress would pass Temer’s ambitious austerity agenda.
In a terse five-minute speech broadcast nationwide, Temer said he had done nothing wrong, that his presidency was helping turn around Brazil’s stalled economy, and he welcomed an investigation so that he could prove his innocence.
“I did not buy the silence of anyone,” Temer said, referring to the allegations made against him. “I will not resign.”
A Supreme Court justice approved the investigation on Thursday, based on plea-bargain testimony and an audio recording in which Temer allegedly conspired to obstruct justice with Joesley Batista, chairman of the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA, according to a report in the O Globo newspaper.
The audio recording released to the public on Thursday did not appear to contain any explosive proof that Temer committed a crime.
It was, however, just one piece of evidence Batista has offered prosecutors. After listening to the recording, a spokesman for Temer said the president was more resolute than ever to fight the investigation and salvage his deeply unpopular presidency.
He said the tape proved he had not approved bribing the witness, former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha. A one-time Temer ally, Cunha was convicted on corruption charges relating to Brazil’s sweeping graft probe known as Operation Car Wash. The jailed politician’s testimony could reportedly implicate scores of politicians, including the president.
“There is no agreeing with payments for Eduardo Cunha,” Marcio de Freitas, a spokesman for Temer, said of the tape.
Protests calling for Temer’s resignation broke out in several cities on Thursday. Activists from across the political spectrum called for large protests this weekend.
The hush money allegations have plunged Brazil back into political turmoil less than a year after Temer played a key role in the impeachment of his predecessor, former President Dilma Rousseff.
Rousseff accused Temer of carrying out a "coup" to impede the Car Wash probe, in which more than 90 leading business and political figures have been convicted so far. Reuters
Demonstrators carrying a coffin at a protest against Brazil’s President Michel Temer (inset) in Rio de Janeiro.