Timeline of political turmoil in Brazil


Brasília (AFP)

Here are key dates in the political crisis engulfing Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff is fighting impeachment on allegations that she illegally borrowed money to boost public spending during her 2014 re-election campaign.

She also faces the exit of her main governing coalition partner, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).

At the same time, Rousseff has been battered by fallout from a mammoth corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras, even though she has not been charged in the case.

Her main ally and predecessor, former president Inacio Lula da Silva, faces charges related to the probe, which he says are politically motivated.

-- March 4, 2016

Lula is briefly detained during a police raid linked to the Petrobras probe, prompting furious protests by supporters. Lula -- founder of the leftist Workers' Party and still highly influential despite having been out of power since 2010 -- echoes Rousseff's claim that the opposition is mounting a coup.

-- March 10

Prosecutors ask for Lula's arrest on money-laundering charges. They accuse him of "violating public order" by calling his supporters to hold mass protests.

He remains at liberty because the arrest request requires approval from a judge, but the latest twist increases the rising political temperature.

-- March 12

Rousseff's main coalition partner, the centrist PMDB, says it will decide in 30 days whether to break its alliance.

-- March 13

Huge opposition crowds protest against Rousseff.

-- March 16

Rousseff names Lula as her new chief of staff. She says she needs the political heavyweight to rescue her government, but the opposition accuses her of trying to shield him from the judge probing the Petrobas scandal, since ministers can be tried only by the Supreme Court.

Investigating Judge Sergio Moro publishes wiretapped conversations that appear to show Rousseff plotting with Lula to shield him, although the wording is ambiguous. Fresh protests erupt.

-- March 17

Rousseff swears Lula in as chief of staff before courts order his appointment suspended. The government appeals.

Rousseff again accuses opponents of mounting a "coup."

Lawmakers relaunch impeachment proceedings against Rousseff after procedural obstacles are resolved.

-- March 23

Supreme Court Judge Teori Zavascki criticizes Moro's release of the Rousseff-Lula wiretaps.

-- March 28

PMDB leader Michel Temer calls on his party to leave the government coalition. The tourism minister is the first to step down, with more expected to follow shortly.

-- March 29

The PMDB meets to make a definitive decision on pulling out and on what timetable.