Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Complex corruption scandals have plunged Brazil into political instability, with leftist President Dilma Rousseff facing impeachment proceedings and her iconic predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva risking jail.... What is Rousseff accused of? -The opposition says she fiddled with government accounts in 2014 to mask budget holes during her reelection campaign. She is accused of breaking the law by taking unauthorized loans from state banks to cover government spending and also continuing this practice in 2015 at the start of her second term. What is Lula accused of? Lula, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2011, is charged with accepting a luxury apartment and a country home as bribes from executives implicated in a $2 billion dollar corruption scam at state oil company Petrobras. He denies involvement in the scandal.- What is the state of play? -Brazil's lower house of congress on Thursday launched a 65-member special committee to draw up a motion on whether impeachment proceedings should be launched against Rousseff. Lula meanwhile is in limbo after prosecutors called for him to be arrested on corruption charges. Rousseff moved to make him her chief of staff on Thursday, a position that would make him immune from trial by all but the Supreme Court. But a judge promptly issued a ruling blocking the appointment over all The congressional commission has two weeks to vote on whether to continue impeachment proceedings against Rousseff. Its recommendation would then go to the full house where two-thirds of deputies -- 342 out of 513 -- are required for impeachment to be upheld. At this point Rousseff would be suspended and the matter would go to the Senate. The upper house, overseen by the president of the Supreme Court, then votes, with a two-thirds majority -- 54 of 81 -- needed to force Rousseff from office.- Is impeachment likely? On paper, Rousseff's ruling coalition, with 314 deputies, would easily defeat impeachment. But congress is split over her performance. On Saturday her major coalition partner, the centrist PMDB party, said it would decide within a month whether to leave the coalition. Recent opinion polls indicate that 60 percent of Brazilians back her impeachment. Her approval rating is only 10 percent.
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) and current President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia on March 17, 2016 (AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)