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    Brazil's suspended speaker of the house Cunha resigned today. | Photo: Reuters

The disgraced lawmaker, who had been refusing to step down, says he is being "persecuted" for leading the impeachment proceedings.

Brazil’s suspended house speaker Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the scheme to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, has resigned as speaker of the country's lower house on Thursday, according to Folha de S. Paulo Thursday.

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Cunha, in tears, read his resignation letter during a press conference, in which he was surrounded by his political allies.

“I have suffered and continue to suffer persecution," said Cunha. "I'm paying a high price for initiating the impeachment process."

Cunha is still being investigated for corruption and perjury allegations, and had been facing suspension from the lower house. Prior to his resignation, submitted in a two page letter, Cunha's lawyers presented a request for habeas corpus to the Supreme Court as he looked to guard himself against being booted from his post.

Waldir Maranhao was named interim lower house since Cunha's suspension in May. The house will hold five sessions to elect Cunha's replacement, who will remain on as speaker until February 1, 2017.

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The embattled lawmaker had been refusing to step down, despite calls from his fellow PMDB party members to resign, but will continue to hold his position as member of the house.

Cunha, a key architect in propelling the impeachment process against President Dilma Rouseff, has been investigated for lying about hiding over US$5 million in laundered money in secret Swiss bank accounts. He was suspended from his position as chief of the lower house by the Supreme Court last month over accusations of intimidating lawmakers and hampering investigations, and still faces an 8-year ban from elected office.

A congressional ethics committee voted in favor of impeaching the lawmaker, and the vote will now pass to the lower house.

Rousseff was suspended from office on May 12 in a move that has been widely condemned as an institutional coup aimed at reinstating conservative power that cannot be won at the ballot box.

If the Senate, overseen by the Supreme Court, ultimately decides to impeach Rousseff with a two-thirds majority vote after her trial, then coup-imposed President Temer will be permanently installed as president until 2018 despite being banned from running in elections.

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