Economy

Brazil's president denies authorising payments to silence politician

Brazil's president denies authorising payments to silence politician

Brazil's President Michel Temer faced calls for his removal Wednesday after a newspaper reported that he had been recorded discussing payments of hush money to a corrupt politician.

"President Michel Temer has never requested payments to obtain the silence of former MP Eduardo Cunha", it said.

Temer took over previous year after the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff, a political natural disaster to a large extent engineered by the then-powerful Cunha. According to the Globo newspaper, the demonstrators had tried to break into the parliament's building, but police used pepper spray against them.

The report said that when Mr Temer was told Mr Cunha was being paid to keep silent, the president responded: "You have to keep that up, all right?"

O Globo's report, which three sources familiar with the matter said was accurate, threatened to pull Temer into a corruption scandal that has already entangled several of his closest allies and advisors.

Scattered protests sprang up in front of the presidential palace and along Sao Paulo's main avenue as opposition lawmakers and even a high-profile ally called for Temer to step down.

Congressman Alessandro Molon, from the Rede party, filed a demand for impeachment with the speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia.

In other countries, a president might see no option but to resign over news such as this, but this is less likely in Brazil, where Mr. Temer will likely hunker down and take refuge in a blizzard of court processes and bureaucracy. "We want democracy, we are outraged with this putschist president", Rocha, a university professor, said.

The Eurasia risk consultancy said the new allegation could be a big problem for Temer. For decades, politicians have accepted off-the-books campaign funding and personal bribes from these companies in exchange for awarding enormous state infrastructure and procurement contracts and writing friendly legislation.

The Petrol√£o Scandal was the same event that brought low former president Dilma Rousseff, who served on the board of Petrobras board of directors when the bribery took place.

Last week, Temer marked his first year in office, expressing optimism about reforms planned for Brazil's weak economy amid a slump in voter support.

She was found guilty by Congress of illegally manipulating the government's accounts to mask the depth of a painful recession.

Temer's right-wing PMDB party was formerly in a coalition with Rousseff's PT before a rupture a year ago that helped pave the way for the controversial impeachment process, widely condemned as a parliamentary coup.