Brazil's Lula sworn in over protests as Rousseff faces impeachment

By REUTERS
March 18, 2016 05:31

 
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Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as chief of staff to his successor Dilma Rousseff on Thursday as a judge sought to block his appointment and Congress began proceedings to impeach her in a deepening political crisis.

Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition demonstrators who clashed with Lula's leftist supporters outside the presidential palace where he was sworn in, while ministers and corruption investigators traded barbs throughout the day.

Spontaneous protests also blocked major avenues in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, spurred by anger that Lula's appointment will shield the former president from prosecutors who charged him with money laundering and fraud as part of a sweeping graft probe centered on state-run oil company Petrobras.

Only Brazil's Supreme Court has jurisdiction in cases against ministers. Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, a federal judge in Brasilia issued an injunction against Lula's appointment on the grounds it blocked "the free exercise of justice."

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