Brazil: Despite Charges of Fraud and Corruption Lula Backs Allied Senator

Senator José Sarney and President LulaLuiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, said that the
resignation or suspension of José Sarney as president of the Senate
could generate a "very serious crisis" leading to "instability,"
according to official sources in Congress.

Senator Aloizio Mercadante, head of the ruling Workers Party benches revealed that President Lula da Silva had instructed them to support Sarney, who allegedly is involved in several irregularities and has been asked by other Senators to quit or temporarily leave the post.

"President Lula considers the situation very serious, but also believes the best way is to undertake a rigorous investigation, to clear responsibilities and implement structural changes to the Senate." without Sarney having to abandon his post, said Senator Mercadante.

Sarney leads the conservative PMDB which is the strongest minority in the Senate, ally of the ruling coalition and his support is crucial for any of the government's initiatives.

Lula does not favor "a temporary removal" of Sarney from the presidency of the Senate, as demanded even by senators from the ruling party, "because if that happens we will face a serious political crisis, an instability scenario" added Mercadante.

All Workers Party senators held a meeting with Lula and it was agreed that a definitive position will be decided next Tuesday.

Mercadante said that the corruption claims against Sarney are part of a plot from the opposition to take over the presidency of the Senate, which is vital for agenda of issues voting and can therefore become an obstacle for any initiative from the Executive.

If Sarney quits or is temporarily removed as president of the Senate he will be replaced by Vice-president Marconi Perillo from the opposition Brazilian Social Democrats party.

Mercadante said Lula believes "the opposition is interested in increasing difficulties and putting obstacles to the government" and a change in the presidency of the Senate "is not ideal in the midst of global financial crisis which needs balancing and responsibility."

Meantime the respected daily O Estado de S. Paulo claimed that Sarney "hid from the electoral justice" statements a two million US dollars mansion he owns in Brasilia and which he purchased from banker Joseph Safra in 1997.

If this is correct Sarney could be liable of alleged "fraud" for having omitted the asset when running for the Senate in 1998 and 2006.

Other corruption allegations include having a grandson act as mediator between private banks and the Senate for loans to the 10.000 staff of the Higher House. Similarly personnel working at his private homes and farms apparently figure as staff of the Senate and thus remunerated by taxpayers.

Mercopress

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