Brazil's leader urges patience amid scandal, economic woes

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President Dilma Rousseff on Sunday asked Brazilians for patience as the country deals with a flagging economy and a widening corruption probe nvolv­ing the state-run oil company and dozens of top politicians.

In a nationally televised ad­dress, Rousseff said her govern­ment will move to fix a serious fiscal problem after posting a pri­mary budget deficit for the first time in more than a decade. She insisted the economic hurdles are only temporary.

“You have every right to be angry and worried, but I ask for patience and understanding because this situation is tempo­rary,” she said in the 15-minute message.

Brazil’s president briefly men­tioned a kickback investigation involving state oil giant Petrobras that has kept the country on edge for days. Last week, the attorney general expanded the probe to include 54 top politicians, in per­haps the most anticipated step in the Petrobras corruption saga.

Rousseff assured the country that she has learned she must “bring the corrupt to justice with a heavy hand.”

Prosecutors say the country’s largest construction and engi­neering firms paid at least $800m in bribes and other funds to Petro­bras’ executives and politicians in exchange for inflated contracts.

Rousseff has not been impli­cated in the scandal but her popu­larity has suffered because of how close she was to Petrobras, lead­ing its board for several years. In some cities, residents banged pots and shouted against Rousseff as her message was playing in their living rooms.

The scandal is creating fric­tion between the president and the legislative chambers, includ­ing among Rousseff’s allies who feature prominently on the list of politicians under scrutiny. The legislative conflicts are playing out as Brazil desperately needs to pass bills to reduce tax breaks and decrease its debt.

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