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Brazil acting president pushes for quick Rousseff impeachment

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Brazil's interim government on Thursday pushed for speeding up the impeachment process against suspended president Dilma Rousseff, who could be forced from office just as Rio starts hosting the Olympic Games.

[BRASÍLIA] Brazil's interim government on Thursday pushed for speeding up the impeachment process against suspended president Dilma Rousseff, who could be forced from office just as Rio starts hosting the Olympic Games.

Rousseff, accused of taking unauthorised loans to patch up the state budget during her 2014 reelection campaign and in early 2015, was suspended for the trial on May 12.

The suspension can run as long as six months, but acting president Michel Temer's team argued for ending far earlier, possibly even before the start of the Rio Olympics on August 5.

"For us, for the Temer government, it would be best if it were as quick as possible, while respecting the rules laid down by the Supreme Court," Mr Temer's chief of staff Eliseu Padilha said.

A decision on the scheduling, which Rousseff's side would prefer to be more drawn out, will be made by the Supreme Court.

Rousseff's lawyer, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, called the impeachment process "a huge farce" and a "coup." The Senate will try Rousseff and must vote by a two thirds majority to remove her from office.

Mr Temer, who was her vice-president, would then stay until scheduled elections in 2018. Anything less and Rousseff would return to power.

The impeachment trial comes on top of a huge corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.

Two of Temer's ministers implicated in the scheme have been forced to resign in the last few days after secret recordings of them apparently criticising the probe were released to the media.

In one of them, planning minister Romero Juca appeared to be saying that the impeachment could be used to block investigators.

However, the Senate rapporteur for impeachment struck a blow against Rousseff on Thursday, saying that he opposed allowing those recordings to be used by her defence during the trial.

Rousseff, who is blamed by many Brazilians for a deep recession and the political crisis, has rock bottom popularity ratings - as does Mr Temer.

In the midst of the turmoil, Brazilian deputies approved a big salary increase for civil servants and the military on Thursday.

AFP