BRASILIA – Brazilian interim President Michel Temer expressed caution Friday with respect to the impeachment trial of suspended head of state Dilma Rousseff but said he believed she would be permanently removed from office.
Temer made his remarks in a press conference with foreign correspondents, including EFE, saying he was preparing to stay in power and “restore trust” in the country and underscoring the “progress” made since Rousseff was suspended and he took over on May 12.
The Senate trial of Rousseff, who is accused of violating budget laws, will resume next week and is expected to conclude by late August.
Temer acknowledged that the trial was creating uncertainty among investors and said the “longer it lasts the worse it will be.”
“I want to be popular,” the interim president said of his approval rating of around 10 percent, adding that the first step in correcting that situation was to get Brazil “on track” and restore the confidence of the financial and economic sectors.
“We’re hopeful that in time there will be a recognition that the country is developing” and that once confidence is restored Brazil will recover its investment grade, he said referring to the Big 3 credit ratings agencies’ moves over the past year to downgrade the nation’s debt to junk status.
Referring to his administration’s priorities, he said proposed pension and labor-law overhauls topped the list and also cited a possible political reform to reduce the number of parties, which now number around 30.
Temer also said his administration was considering selling some state-owned assets.
Referring to a massive bribes-for-inflated-contracts scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras that has ensnared high-ranking political figures and senior company executives, he said the investigation was helping to clean up Brazilian politics and had already led to a Supreme Court decision to ban corporate funding for political parties.
The interim president said he would maintain some social programs implemented by the now-opposition Workers’ Party, or PT, saying they were necessary in a country with elevated poverty levels.
Temer, who had been Rousseff’s vice president prior to May 12, said he had not spoken to her in recent months due to her “aggressive” attitude vis-a-vis the impeachment effort, which she terms a “coup.”