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21 Aug, 2015 14:11

'No to coup!' Rousseff supporters hit streets of Brazil following anti-govt protests

Rallies in support of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff were held across the country amid calls for the leader’s impeachment. They follow huge protests from those who accuse her of corruption and responsibility for the nation's recession.

Some 172,000 people took part in the Thursday rallies in more than two dozen cities, according to organizers, cited by AFP. A partial police estimate, which did not include figures for Rio de Janeiro, put the numbers at 72,000.

Pro-Rousseff demonstrators shouted “No to the coup!” during the Thursday rally in Rio de Janeiro, which was called by Rousseff's Workers' Party.

"We want to continue with democracy. No to the coup, no to fascism!" 68-year-old poet Jorge Salomao told AFP.

It's been estimated that almost a million people took part in rallies on Sunday to demand Rousseff's ouster, in what was the third mass anti-Rousseff protest in six months. 

Those rallying for Rousseff's impeachment say she is guilty of corruption, believing she must have known about a corruption scandal at the state oil firm Petrobras, as alleged bribery took place when she was head of the company.

Rousseff was, however, exonerated in an investigation by the attorney general and denies involvement, though several senior members of her government have been implicated.

Her opponents also blame her for the worst economic downturn in 25 years.

But Rousseff says the threats of impeachment amount to nothing more than “coup plotting” – a significant term for Brazil, which only ended two decades of military dictatorship in 1985.

While Rousseff faces opposition from the right, she also faces disillusion from the left over government austerity measures aimed at fixing the economy. Her approval rating is currently in the single digits, making her the least popular president since the 1980s, according to recent polls.

"We're in a very difficult position," said Luis Felipe Marques, 26, who attended a smaller protest earlier in Rio.

"It's really complicated. I can't support impeachment, but on the other hand I have to be against austerity, because that's not the left,” he added.

The lack of support from both sides has left Rousseff struggling for political survival less than a year into her second term.

Massive protests against Rousseff began in March, with at least one million taking to the streets to voice their anger. Another 600,000 took part in a similar demonstration in April.