In an abrupt change of position, Eduardo Cunha, speaker of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, accepted Wednesday a request to begin impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, triggering the process that could potentially remove her from power.
The request to begin the impeachment process was submitted by three lawyers in October and is backed by the opposition-aligned Brazilian Social Democratic Party along with 45 other movements and parties.
"There was anxiety in Brazilian society with regard to this moment. It is a historic moment and it will be up to the Chamber and the Senate to conduct its judgement. The proceeding was initiated today and tomorrow, the House will have a special committee to consider the request for impeachment presented by the lawyers Helio Bicudo, Miguel Reale Jr. and Janaina Paschoal," said Mendonça Filho, a lawmaker from the Democrats party that supports the ouster of the president.
Two-thirds of the Chamber must authorize the impeachment for it to proceed to the Senate.
Cunha's decision to begin impeachment proceedings is being widely interpreted as a retaliatory move after three lawmakers from Rousseff's party stated that they would vote to remove Cunha from his position.
The Ethics Council of the Chamber of Deputies is currently reviewing its own request to remove Cunha from his post as speaker over allegations that he lied to the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry about his assets, claiming he did not have any foreign bank accounts.
The government of Switzerland confirmed in October that it had frozen the bank accounts and assets of Cunha over suspected money laundering. Cunha has denied any wrongdoing.
As speaker of the Lower House, Cunha is the only Brazilian political official allowed to initiate impeachment procedures against a sitting president.
Cunha confessed last month that the momentum to impeach President Dilma Rousseff has been lost and that he would not consider opening proceedings until 2016.
Brazil's Federal Accounts Court alleged in October that Rousseff's government had manipulated its accounts in 2014 to disguise a widening fiscal deficit as she campaigned for re-election.
The Federal Accounts Court is an autonomous organ of the state, but its ruling in this case is not legally binding and must be confirmed by the Brazilian Congress.
The impeachment request, the 28th such request this year, is based on the alleged wrongdoing signaled by the Federal Accounts Court.