As you may recall, Dilma appointed Lula as her new chief of staff.
This did not go down well.
Their phone lines were bugged, and tapes were released supporting claims that ex-leader’s inauguration as chief of staff is designed to help him avoid money-laundering charges
In the tapes, which emerged ahead of Mr Lula’s inauguration in Brasilia on Thursday, Ms Rousseff can be heard telling him that she will send over the papers for his appointment before the ceremony “in case of necessity”.
The leak comes as Ms Rousseff herself faces impeachment proceedings over alleged illegalities in the government budget.
Critics argued that the recording was evidence that the manoeuvre was a tactic to help Mr Lula, Ms Rousseff’s political mentor, evade prosecution.
As a government minister, he will have special privileges that mean he can only be tried in Brazil’s Supreme Court, staving off the current charges against him that were recently filed at a São Paulo court.
People took to the streets in protest.
More importantly, an hour after Dilma swore in Lula as her chief of staff. a judge suspended his appointment, saying it indicates an attempt to hide evidence.
In his ruling, which responds to a popular petition, the judge argued that if Lula da Silva took up the role of Civil House minister – a post he accepted before President Rousseff on Thursday – he would have the power to carry out “wrongful and hateful intervention” in the police force, public prosecution service and judiciary.
The Democrats and the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), the latter a former ally of the government, have also said they will appeal the appointment in the courts.
The judge added that Rousseff may herself have committed a crime of “liability” in appointing Lula da Silva, given that the law prevents the president from carrying out acts against the “honesty” of the public administration. A liability crime is one of the offenses stated in the Constitution that provides grounds for a political trial with the aim of dismissing a head of state. The Chamber of Deputies is on Thursday due to renew its discussion of Rousseff’s possible impeachment.
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Lula’s party claims the judge’s decision is political, since the judge took part in a demonstration calling for Dilma’s resignation.
The Senate is furiously debating how to proceed, in an atmosphere O Globo describes of “squabbles, insults and even threats of physical confrontation.”
The bottom line:
Brazil, South America’s largest country in land mass, population and economy, is at a decisive moment in its history. This is a test to all of Brazil’s institutions. How Brazil’s institutions handle this situation will not only determine the country’s destiny for the remaining of the 21st century, but will also influence greatly the future of its neighbors.
Senator urges Dilma to resign in order to avoid a military coup (link in Spanish).
Whether this is in the works, or whether it’s a form of turning the screws on Dilma, it’s not happy news.