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

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Monday she would fight on in the face of a vote by lawmakers to impeach her that has plunged her government into its deepest crisis yet.

Speaking publicly for the first time since 367 members of the country's lower Chamber of Deputies voted to impeach her Sunday, Rousseff called the vote a "coup d'etat."

"It uses the appearance of a legal and democratic process to perpetrate a crime, which is injustice," she said.

The former guerrilla, who was tortured during Brazil's 1964-85 military dictatorship, said she was "having tortured dreams" since the vote.

"They will not kill my hope, because I know that democracy is always on the right side of history," Rousseff said.

She vowed to continue to "fight as I have for my whole life."

More than two-thirds of Brazil's lower house voted in favour of impeaching Rousseff on charges of budget and campaign finance irregularities. Only 137 voted against.

The decision means that Brazil's Senate could now suspend Rousseff from office for 180 days with a simple majority vote expected later this month.

Rousseff has been under pressure to resign for months, accused by opposition lawmakers of hiding the extent of the budget deficit during her re-election campaign at the end of 2014.

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

Her approval rating, currently at only 10 per cent, has been battered by recession, as Brazil's resource-dependent economy took hits from a bust in commodities markets and slowing global economy. Unemployment rose to 9.6 million workers in 2015.

Rousseff has been entangled in a massive corruption scandal at state oil corporation Petrobas that has implicated hundreds of parliamentary deputies and more than half of the Senate.

Rousseff headed Petrobras' board from 2003-10. She has not been directly implicated in the scandal, but her attempt last month to appoint as her cabinet chief former president Ignacio Lula da Silva, who is under formal investigation, backfired in the face of allegations that she wanted to shield him from prosecution.

Under investigation in the Petrobras scandal is Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who led the calls for Rousseff's impeachment. Cunha is accused of taking 5 million dollars in bribes linked to a Petrobras contract.

The impeachment debate took place less than four months before the Olympic Games open August 5 in Rio de Janeiro. The International Olympic Committee said Monday it was not concerned about a potential impeachment's impact on the Olympics.

"The preparations for the Olympic Games are now in a very operational phase, in which this type of political problem has much less influence than at other levels of organization," an IOC spokesperson told dpa.

If the Senate votes to proceed with impeachment, Vice President Michel Temer will take power while the Supreme Court investigates the charges against Rousseff.

The Senate would then require a two-thirds majority at a final vote in October to remove Rousseff from office permanently.

Brazilian media reports suggested that a majority of senators were prepared to vote for suspension.

Temer was already making plans for a new government, the Folha de Sao Paulo daily reported Monday.

Latest news

Syrian forces close in on city held by Turkish-backed rebels

Syrian government forces on Sunday seized a town from the Islamic State extremist militia near the northern city of al-Bab already under the control of Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian state media and monitors reported.

At least 90 Christian families escape Sinai attacks

At least 90 families reached Egypt's Ismailiya governorate, after escaping targeted killings by a local Islamic State militia in northern Sinai in recent days, an official at the Coptic Orthodox Church said Sunday.

40,000 Croats suffer from anorexia and bulimia

More than 40,000 Croatians, mostly girls and young women aged between 12 and 30, suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder and that number is growing each year, experts at the centre for eating disorders BEA have reported.

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad praises Trump

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a personal letter to Donald Trump in which he praised the US president and wished him well in his tenure, local media reported Sunday.

Russians honour slain opposition leader Nemtsov in Moscow rally

A demonstration on the second anniversary of the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov drew thousands of people to the streets of Moscow on Sunday.

Iran President Rowhani to run for second term

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is to stand for a second four-year term in office, Vice-President Hussein-Ali Amiri announced Sunday.

Five injured as car hits pedestrians in south-east London

A man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and drink-driving on Sunday after five people were injured by a car he was driving in south-east London, police said.

Iraq retakes first neighbourhood in western Mosul from Islamic State

For the first time Iraqi forces have retaken control of a neighbourhood in the the western section of Mosul as they battle to drive the Islamic State group from their last key Iraqi stronghold, a senior commander said Sunday.

Dutch floating sheerleg arrives in Sibenik

The Italian tugboat Megara towed in the Sibenik naval port on Sunday the 72-metre long Dutch floating sheerleg "Taklift 7" which will lift a mega-yacht from a synchrolift in the NCP Repair Shipyard.

16 killed, 50 injured in truck accident in north-eastern India

At least 16 people were killed Sunday and 50 injured when the truck they were travelling in overturned on a curve and hit a barrier on the side of the road, police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya said.

Trump's wall threatens rich wildlife along US-Mexican border

A continuous wall of the kind planned along the US-Mexican border could be an impenetrable barrier for many wild animals already affected by existing fences.

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.