Brazil police raids, ethics probe weaken Rousseff foe

BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazilian police searched the home of lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha yesterday as part of a series of anti-graft raids against senior political figures, dealing a blow to the man who opened President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment proceedings.

Hours after the raids, Cunha suffered another setback when the house ethics committee voted to investigate him for hiding Swiss bank accounts, further eroding his standing.

The raids and the ethics case are expected to weaken a bid to unseat Rousseff that Cunha triggered this month in Congress as they reduce his sway over the divided Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), a wavering ally with crucial votes in the impeachment process.

“This is good for Dilma. It further undermines the legitimacy of an impeachment process led by Cunha,” said Leonardo Barreto, a Brasilia-based political analyst.

Barreto said it also weakens the PMDB by showing Brazilians that, even if Rousseff is removed, political instability stemming from the Petrobras corruption probe will continue.

Police said the raids on Cunha’s homes in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro were among 53 search-and-seizures carried out in the widening investigation into kick-backs on contracts at state oil company Petrobras.

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