BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer denied rumors on Friday that he was dropping the job of handling President Dilma Rousseff’s relations with her coalition allies in Congress. Temer has become Brazil’s virtual prime minister since Rousseff put him in charge of her ties with an unruly coalition. But his comment on Wednesday that the nation needed someone to resolve its political crisis caused friction within Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.
Rousseff called Temer in for a chat on Thursday, according to an aide to the vice president. Valor PRO financial news service reported that Temer, who leads the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Rousseff’s main ally, told the president at their meeting that he was throwing in the towel as political go-between.
“The rumors that I have stopped handling the political articulation are unfounded,” Temer said in a Twitter message. “I continue. I have a duty to my country and President Dilma.”
The Temer aide told Reuters that Rousseff said she trusted the vice president and dismissed suspicions in her party that he was angling for her job.
With her popularity at rock bottom and the country sliding into recession, Rousseff has relied on Temer to push through austerity measures in Congress to try to reduce a fiscal deficit and save Brazil’s investment-grade credit rating. A split with Temer would further undermine the Rousseff administration’s credibility and increase calls her resignation in the midst of massive corruption scandal at state-oil company Petrobras and the worst economic downturn in 25 years.
Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello, Silvio Cascione and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)