A Brazilian Federal Supreme Court justice on Tuesday ordered Congress to start impeachment proceedings against Vice President Michel Temer, in a surprise ruling that risks deepening a political crisis gripping Latin America’s biggest country.
Justice Marco Aurelio Mello told the lower house to install a special committee to analyze the potential ouster of Temer over charges he helped doctor budget accounting as part of President Dilma Rousseff’s administration.
Another committee is already analyzing similar charges against Rousseff, who is scrambling for support to defeat an impeachment vote in the lower house expected as early as mid-April.
Although the decision can be overturned by the full supreme court, Mello’s decision raises questions about the future political leadership of a country mired in its worst political and economic crisis in decades. If Rousseff is impeached, Temer would succeed her.