Dilma Rousseff.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Senado Federal, used under CC BY

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made a last-minute appeal Tuesday to the country's Supreme Court to stop a Senate vote on whether to open impeachment proceedings against her, as her supporters took to the streets in nationwide protests.

In court filings, Rousseff called the impeachment proceedings an "abuse of power" by the former speaker of the country's Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, who was himself suspended from office by the Supreme Court amid a corruption investigation Friday.

A decision from the country's highest court was expected before the Senate vote was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.

The move was the latest in a series of dramatic, last-minute manoeuvres around the vote that seeks to remove Rousseff from office.

On Monday, Waldir Maranhao, the interim head of the legislature's lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, annulled its April 17 vote to seek impeachment, citing procedural problems.

But Maranhao later reversed that decision and said the impeachment process would go on as planned.

If the Senate votes by a simple majority to consider the impeachment, Rousseff will be suspended for 180 days, during which time the Senate would investigate the case. A two-thirds majority would be required in the upper house to permanently remove her from office.

Hundreds of demonstrators allied with Rousseff's left-wing Workers' party barricaded roads and blocked streets across the country on the eve of the proceedings, according to news reports.

In the capital Brasilia, authorities set up a kilometer-long "impeachment wall" stretching from the Brazilian congress to the city's cathedral to separate protesters who support Rousseff from those who demand she go.

Rousseff stands accused of tampering with figures to disguise the size of Brazil's budget deficit during her 2014 re-election campaign.

She and her supporters have called the impeachment vote an attempted coup and have pointed out she has not been charged with any crime.

Rousseff's presidency has been battered by a recession brought on by a drop in commodities markets and slowing global economy. Unemployment in Brazil rose to 9.6 million workers in 2015.

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