Suspended Leader to Attend Rio Olympics, With or Without Invite

  • ‘I watched these Olympics be born’ -- Dilma Rousseff
  • Says will fight impeachment through final vote in Senate

Brazil’s suspended president, Dilma Rousseff, will attend the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she said, whether she’s invited or has to watch through binoculars from afar.

Speaking to foreign correspondents Tuesday, Rousseff said she hasn’t received a formal invitation to the games and lamented that her successor, Michel Temer, isn’t giving her administration credit for the preparations. Temer took over Brazil’s top job in May when the Senate voted to open an impeachment trial against Rousseff.

“It’s an immense shame that a month before the Olympics, there’s this effort to treat anything about the Olympics as a product of this provisional and interim government,” Rousseff said in Brasilia. “I watched these Olympics be born.”

Rio in 2009 won the rights to host the games and is largely prepared to start receiving athletes and sports enthusiasts in August. Temer on Tuesday visited the Olympic Park and pledged to provide federal resources for any last-minute work that needs to be done. When asked his opinion about Rousseff’s attendance, he said simply, “I don’t care.”

Stand Trial

The games are set to get under way Aug. 5 and run through Aug. 21 which is expected to coincide with the Senate’s impeachment vote. The suspended president says her removal from office, based on allegations she used illegal accounting tricks to hide a budget deficit, amounts to a modern-day coup d’etat.

Thousands of people around Brazil have marched in support of Rousseff, especially groups of women, labor unions and artists, but the demonstrations haven’t shaken the market-friendly agenda of Temer’s interim government. There’s an 80 percent probability the Senate will decide against Rousseff and end her mandate, analysts at political consulting firm Eurasia Group wrote Tuesday.

Some Senators who voted in favor of opening the impeachment trial have said they are still evaluating whether the allegations against Rousseff are grounds for her permanent removal. Speaking on Tuesday in the presidential residence where she still lives, Rousseff said some of those senators could be swayed by the promise of holding new presidential elections, but she stopped short of committing to that proposal.

Rousseff repeated her claims that the budget maneuvers in question were not illegal and vowed to fight her impeachment until the very end. While declining to discuss policy proposals if she returns to office, she said she’s preparing a letter to outline some of her commitments to the Brazilian people as their elected leader.

“I have no desire to only preserve my term in office, I want to preserve democracy,” she said.

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