Off the hook, Te­mer to force more re­forms

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BRASILIA: The un­elected Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer, who is Brazil’s most un­pop­u­lar leader since 1985 when democ­racy re­turned, has vowed to con­tinue with his con­tro­ver­sial eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­forms now that he is safe from a trial to face cor­rup­tion charges.

Te­mer held on to power on Wed­nes­day as the Cham­ber of Deputies voted to re­ject cor­rup­tion charges against him.

The law­suit filed against the pres­i­dent by Prose­cu­tor-Gen­eral Ro­drigo Janot has been dropped, with 263 votes against 227 to dis­miss the charges.

The case be­gan in May, when Joes­ley Batista, the owner of a Brazil­ian meat-pack­ing com­pany, con­fessed that he had paid bribes to the pres­i­dent. He also turned over an au­dio record­ing in which Te­mer can ap­par­ently be heard sign­ing off on bribes for pub­lic of­fi­cials.

Te­mer’s spe­cial ad­viser, Ro­drigo Loures, was also caught on film re­ceiv­ing a suit­case of 500000 Brazil­ian re­als (R2.1 mil­lion) al­legedly des­tined for the pres­i­dent.

Te­mer was then charged with bribe-tak­ing, the first such charge against a sit­ting Brazil­ian pres­i­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to Brazil­ian law, Te­mer can­not be pros­e­cuted on th­ese cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions again dur­ing his term in of­fice fol­low­ing the re­jec­tion of the charges.

Te­mer’s pres­i­dency has been marked by a harsh agenda of aus­ter­ity, no­tably push­ing through mas­sive re­forms to Brazil’s labour leg­is­la­tion in a move that was met with re­sis­tance from work­ers and unions across the coun­try.

His next chal­lenge will be to push for­ward with pen­sion re­form, which will re­quire a three-fifths ma­jor­ity in the House and Se­nate since it is a con­sti­tu­tional re­form.

Te­mer’s pop­u­lar­ity lan­guishes at a dis­mal 5%, which is the low­est of any pres­i­dent since the re­turn of democ­racy in 1985, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent poll by Ibope.

Eighty-one per­cent of Brazil­ians also sup­ported the trial of the pres­i­dent for cor­rup­tion, ac­cord­ing to the same polling group. Xin­hua and TeleSUR

PIC­TURE: AP

Brazil’s Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer gives a state­ment at Planalto pres­i­den­tial palace in Brasilia on Wed­nes­day af­ter sur­viv­ing a key con­gres­sional vote that could have sus­pended him over a bribery charge.

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