Brazil lawmakers open session ahead of impeachment vote

Brazil lawmakers open session ahead of impeachment vote

Brazil`s lower house of Congress opened final debate Sunday ahead of a vote on impeaching President Dilma Rousseff amid chaotic scenes as rival deputies sang patriotic songs and scuffled in the chamber.

After party leaders completed their final statements, the 513 deputies were to vote on whether to send Rousseff to the Senate for possible trial. A two thirds majority, or 342 votes, were needed for the vote to pass.

"The session is open under the protection of God and in the name of the Brazilian people," said lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a fierce opponent of Rousseff.

Deputies in the chamber shouted "There will be no coup!" and "Impeachment now!", as well as singing the national anthem and a famous patriotic song regularly sung at football games.

Then barely minutes after starting, the session descended into worse chaos with deputies scuffling, waving flags, and briefly unfurling a banner behind Cunha, reading "Out with Cunha!"

Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts to mask the poor health of the budget in an election year. She says the accounting tricks were common practice in previous governments and do not amount to an impeachable offense.

Many in Brazil`s Congress, notably Cunha, have faced criminal charges or investigations. Cunha is accused of stashing millions of dollars in bribe money in Switzerland.

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