Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

President Temer refuses to step down amid corruption chaos

President Temer refuses to step down amid corruption chaos

On Thursday, the Supreme Court launched an investigation into Temer and he faced four separate impeachment requests in Congress.

Stocks plunged, both chambers of Congress canceled sessions, and the office of President Michel Temer canceled his planned activities in the wake of a Globo newspaper report that he had been recorded endorsing the bribery of a former lawmaker.

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"I will not resign", he said emphatically.

The Supreme Court piled on the pressure by greenlighting a formal investigation into Temer.

And, political scientists expressed doubts Thursday over Temer's future tenure.

The Sao Paulo stock market's Bovespa index crashed more than 10 per cent after opening, triggering an automatic suspension of trading for 30 minutes.

A shock bribery scandal involving the Brazilian president has caused the country's benchmark index to suffer its fastest decline since the 2008 financial crisis and the real to drop 8 per cent against the United States dollar. And while the US spent much of the day talking about impeachment, in Brazil they actually did it: Rede party deputy Alessandro Molon filed an impeachment request against Temer, according to his press office.

Their aim is to channel the rising anger against the entire capitalist setup in Brazil back behind the discredited Workers Party (PT) and, in particular, the candidacy of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former metalworkers union leader who occupied the presidency from 2003 to 2010. "Even if the recordings don't show something that bad, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube", said Claudio Couto, a political science professor at Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a Sao Paulo-based university and think tank.

Cunha led the impeachment fight that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency a year ago and put Temer, then the vice-president, into power.

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Last week, Rojas was reportedly arrested for allegedly pointing a knife at a notary and accusing him stealing his identity. The incident was not an considered act of terrorism, and the suspected driver of the auto was in custody.

Temer said on Thursday he would not resign, but his hold on office has become tenuous.

One man, who is apparently Temer, complains that Cunha could potentially embarrass him.

Justice Edson Fachin, who is overseeing cases related to the investigation of a $2 billion corruption scheme centred on state oil company Petrobras, approved the probe of the president's conduct. In recent months, the probe has moved closer to the president and his circle.

The tape, obtained by Joesley Batista, chairman of the world's biggest meat exporter JBS, was made public by prosecutors after it was leaked to Brazil's O Globo newspaper on Wednesday evening.

In the recording, offered as evidence in a plea bargain between Batista and his brother Wesley with prosecutors, Temer allegedly can be heard telling Batista: "You need to keep doing that, OK?"

Cunha was arrested for several counts of corruption past year, and threatened to tell the authorities what he knew about corruption schemes and bribery in the government. Temer is denying a report that he endorsed the alleged bribing of a jailed former congressman to keep him quiet.

However, the alleged hush money incident took place just this March, Globo reported.

Brazil's political crisis deepened on Thursday as government allies began openly discussing scenarios for the replacement of Mr. Temer after federal police carried out search and arrest warrants throughout the capital, Brasilia. Neves, who almost won the presidency in 2014 and planned to run again next year, has denied wrongdoing.

President Temer, whose government has a 9% approval rating, had already been named in plea bargain testimony for negotiating millions in illegal campaign funding, which he denies.

Despite Temer's refusal to resign, Sergio Praça, a political scientist at Brazil's Getulio Vargas Foundation university, said the leader would have "zero chance of surviving this, once the audio tapes were released".

The scandal comes at a crucial time for Brazil, which is mired in its worst recession in decades, the economy having shrunk almost 8 percent in the last two years with more than 14 million people unemployed.

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