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Brazil's president could be out on her ear - here's why

Dilma Rousseff is in serious trouble.

Brazil Political Crisis Eraldo Peres Eraldo Peres

BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT DILMA Rousseff could be out of a job, after the country’s lower house paved the way for her impeachment.

Interim speaker of the lower house of Congress, Waldir Maranhao said in a statement that he “reversed the decision” to cancel the April vote by lawmakers that launched the impeachment process.

The formality clears the way for Rousseff’s impeachment to go ahead, Brazilian media reports.

Maranhao’s move comes after Senate President Renan Calheiros yesterday dismissed Maranhao’s annulment, saying the Senate would still go ahead with the impeachment.

So, what’s going on?

Brazil Political Crisis A demonstrator holds a Aedes aegypti mosquito doll depicting Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff during a protest. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Starting tomorrow, the senate in Brazil will begin a session of hearings at which Rousseff’s fate will be decided.

After the lower house declared the impeachment “prejudged” and “flawed”, it seemed like she might have a way out. Unfortunately for her and her allies, Senate President Renan Calheiros did not take long to respond.

“I ignore” the order, Calheiros said in a nationally televised session.

Around 50 of the 81 senators have already said they planned to vote in favor of an impeachment trial.

The vote result is expected on Thursday, followed shortly after by Rousseff’s departure from the presidential offices. Ministers have reportedly already been clearing their desks.

Once suspended, Rousseff would face a trial lasting months, with a two-thirds majority needed eventually to eject her from office.

How did we get here?

Brazil Political Crisis Anti-government demonstrators walk past a Brazilian flag during a demonstration in favor of the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Rousseff, from the leftist Workers’ Party, is accused of illegally manipulating government budget accounts during her 2014 re-election battle to mask the seriousness of economic problems.

But she says that process has been twisted into a coup by right-wingers in the second year of her second term.

Working against Rousseff is a deep recession in Brazil, just months before it’s set to host the Olympics.

The Zika virus is hurting tourism and oil prices are declining. Massive racial and wealth divides have been exacerbated and a country which has the world’s seventh largest economy is in a political mess the likes of which it hasn’t seen before.

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The rancour led to millions taking to the streets in March demanding the arrest of Dilma. Prosecutors are investigating a potential embezzlement ring in Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras. Many public figures have already been implicated in the scandal.

Prosecutors’ highest-profile target is Rousseff’s key mentor in the Workers’ Party, ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Rousseff has not been formally accused of corruption like many of her rivals.

But prosecutors have called for her to be investigated for allegedly trying to obstruct a probe into the Petrobras affair. That charge relates to Rousseff’s attempt in March to bring Lula into her cabinet.

She maintained he would help her fight off the impeachment, but a federal judge accused her of seeking ministerial immunity for the ex-president to help him dodge existing money laundering charges also connected to the Petrobras scam.

What’s next?

Brazil Political Crisis An anti-government demonstrator holds a statue of Our Lady of Aparecida after the lower house of Congress voted to impeach Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

With the impeachment trial back on, Rousseff faces a months-long trial and possibly end of political career, all of which could coincide with this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

That is before any criminal charges.

Hearings to initiate the impeachment start tomorrow and a result is due on Thursday.

If Rousseff is suspended, she would be replaced by her vice-president-turned-enemy, Michel Temer, a centre-right politician.

With AFP reporting.

Read: Pictures: An incredible THREE MILLION people have joined an anti-government protest in Brazil

Read: Brazil in crisis after vote to impeach president

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