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Brazil's Rousseff to address impeachment in UN trip

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Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff flew to New York on Thursday to sign a global climate change pact but she will use the international stage to denounce efforts to impeach her.

[BRASÍLIA] Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff flew to New York on Thursday to sign a global climate change pact but she will use the international stage to denounce efforts to impeach her.

The opposition criticized Ms Rousseff's plans to address the issue at the United Nations, days after the lower house of Congress sent impeachment proceedings to the Senate, which is expected to vote on opening a trial by mid-May.

Ms Rousseff is going to the UN to sign the climate deal on Friday, but a government official told AFP that her speech would include "one sentence" about the crisis back home that has left her fighting for her political life.

The official did not give more details, but cabinet chief Jaques Wagner told reporters late Wednesday that Ms Rousseff would have to "express her indignation about the coup that is developing in Brazil" during her trip.

Ms Rousseff says charges that she used illegal accounting tricks to mask budget deficits in an election year in 2014 have no legal foundation.

Ms Rousseff will likely describe the impeachment process as "artificial and false, because Dilma is an honest woman who did not commit any crime," Mr Wagner said, without specifying at what point during the visit she would make such remarks.

Ms Rousseff already has a sympathetic ear among other left-wing governments in Latin America.

Cuba's communist leader Raul Castro called the impeachment process this week a "parliamentary coup" while Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said her ouster would be a "threat to the people of the Americas."

US President Barack Obama, who has repaired relations with Rousseff following strains over a US spying scandal, voiced "hope" last month that Brazil would resolve its political crisis "in an effective way."

After Friday's signing ceremony, Ms Rousseff will join a lunch with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The leftist leader will return home late Friday or early Saturday.

The opposition has already warned her against criticizing the impeachment process, which she has described as a "coup", while she is abroad.

"Saying that we are experiencing a coup in order to get support and legitimacy to stay in power will only worsen the economic crisis, worsen the social crisis and worsen the political crisis," said Marina Silva, an environmentalist who finished third in the 2014 presidential election.

Senator Cassio Cunha Lima said it would be a "crime against the nation" for Ms Rousseff to use the trip to criticize the impeachment process.

Ms Rousseff decided to go to New York even though she had cancelled her attendance at the ceremony to light the Olympic flame in Greece on Thursday ahead of the Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Her trip means that Vice President Michel Temer, whom she accuses of conspiring to oust her, will be in charge of the country until her return.

If the Senate opens a trial next month, Ms Rousseff would have to step aside for 180 days and Mr Temer would take over in the meantime.

After that, a two-thirds majority vote would be enough to oust her permanently, leaving Mr Temer to serve out her term, which ends in late 2018.

Brazilians have also been angry at the country's deep recession and a massive corruption case at state oil giant Petrobras.

While Ms Rousseff has not been accused of a crime in the Petrobras case, a Supreme Court judge agreed late Wednesday to add testimony of a ruling party senator who claims that she was well aware of the purchase of a US refinery that turned into a US$792 million loss.