by Compiled from Wire Services
May 25, 2016 12:00 am
Acting Brazilian President Michel Temer's government faced its first major crisis Monday when a key minister stepped aside following a leaked recording in which he appears to discuss using Dilma Rousseff's impeachment to derail a huge corruption probe. The new leak added to speculation that Dilma Rousseff was removed from office in Brazil by a coup. The loss of Juca, a close ally, is a blow to acting President Michel Temer, who assumed office 10 days ago following the suspension of Dilma Rousseff as president by the Senate, pending an impeachment investigation over allegedly manipulated budget figures. Newly installed Minister of Planning and Development Romero Jucá is recorded saying that Rousseff's exit would be the best way to stop a major corruption investigation that is centered on state-run oil company Petrobras. In excerpts of the conversations that were revealed by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Jucá, who was a Senator at the time, tells Sergio Machado, former president of the Transpetro oil and gas company, that "we must change the government to stop the bleeding." "I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it," he says. Temer took over from Rousseff automatically on May 12 because he was vice president, but suffers rock-bottom approval ratings. Juca was a key figure in the drive to impeach Rousseff, and is a vice-president of Temer's centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement party. Rousseff said the scandal supports her claim that her impeachment is part of a strategy to bury the Petrobras investigation. "If anyone was still uncertain that a coup is in progress, based on a change of power and fraud, Juca's strongly incriminating statements about the real objectives of impeachment, about who is behind him, remove any doubt." The senior member of Rousseff's Workers' Party in the lower house of Congress, Afonso Florence, said the scandal could "lead to the cancellation" of the impeachment process.