Impeached Brazil Leader Rousseff Eyes Political Return


Six months after her humiliating departure from Brazil's presidency following an impeachment trial, Dilma Rousseff is contemplating her political future.

During an exclusive interview with AFP, she appeared more relaxed than she was during August's emotional impeachment spectacle.

That event was not the end of her political battle, she said. On her Twitter account, she still calls herself "Brazilian President-elect."

"I will not run for president again," the 69-year-old leftist leader said in the capital Brasilia.

"But I will never give up politics. I do not rule out the possibility of running for the office of senator or deputy."

- Corruption, elections -

Rousseff's conservative rivals ousted her by securing an impeachment vote against her over allegations that she fiddled state accounts.

She denied the charges and branded the impeachment drive a politically motivated "coup."

"That was the enemy's idea of justice," she says. "Not to judge me -- to destroy me."

Her case was separate from the giant corruption scandal over the state oil firm Petrobras, which has netted numerous top politicians.

Rousseff's successor, her ally-turned-rival Michel Temer, himself risks being caught up in the Petrobras affair, which has implicated many politicians close to him.

A recent opinion poll indicated that Rousseff's old ally and predecessor as president Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva could win the 2018 election if he runs, despite facing charges in the Petrobras affair.

Questioned about Petrobras, Rousseff lets her frustration show.

"Those matters are extremely complex," she says. "To this day, no one in Brazil knows about all the corruption cases there."

Lula faces trial over alleged involvement in the Petrobras affair, which he denies.

But if he ever does return to the political joust, that could mean a dramatic upturn the fortunes of Rousseff and their Workers' Party, a beacon of the Latin American left.

- Bodyguard -

Having left the presidential palace in Brasilia in September, Rousseff has been living a relatively low-profile life in her southern home city, Porto Alegre. She occasionally visits her mother in Rio de Janeiro.

With no pension from her time as president, she lives on a $1,700 monthly salary as a regional official. She tops it up with rent from four apartments her family owns.

Although has a bodyguard, she says "there is nothing to stop someone trying to attack me" so soon after last year's bitter political ructions.

- Torture -

Rousseff was tortured in jail in the 1970s for belonging to a leftist guerrilla group under Brazil's military dictatorship.

She recalled that ordeal during her 10-hour testimony at the impeachment trial, comparing it to her latest political travails.

Among the leaders of the impeachment drive was Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of the lower house of congress.

He himself now faces trial for alleged corruption.

"I have no vengeful feelings against Eduardo Cunha or anything like that," Rousseff says.

"I did not have any against my torturers either. I do not give them the honor of hating them."