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BBC Brazil correspondent Stephen Cviic reports
on a corruption conviction for Sao Paulo's mayor
 real 28k

Friday, 24 March, 2000, 22:47 GMT
Brazil mayor told to resign

Sao Paulo's debts have ballooned
By Stephen Cviic in Sao Paulo

A court in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, has ordered Mayor Celso Pitta to leave his post because he accepted an illegal loan from a businessman.

Two weeks ago Mr Pitta's ex-wife, Nicea, went on national television to accuse him of massive corruption, and since then various attempts have been made to force him from office.

The post of mayor of Sao Paulo is one of the most important jobs in Brazilian politics, but Mr Pitta has had a miserable three-and-a-half years in charge of Latin America's main business centre.

Elected as the puppet of his powerful right-wing mentor, Paulo Maluf, Mr Pitta has watched apparently helplessly as the city's debt ballooned to more than $5bn.

Now, he is widely regarded as hopelessly corrupt.

The scandal gathered pace two weeks ago, when Mr Pitta's estranged wife alleged, among other things, that he had bribed councillors so they would not impeach him.

Political impact

Mrs Pitta has herself been accused of corruption, but ordinary voters seem more inclined to believe her than her husband's denials.

The left-wing opposition has been trying without success to have the mayor impeached, and Mr Pitta can still appeal against the latest court decision - but his position seems untenable.

The scandal in Sao Paulo is part of a wider exposure of corruption throughout Brazil, which may have an impact on municipal elections due later this year.

In Sao Paulo, two left-wing candidates with apparently clean records are well ahead in the opinion polls.

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17 Mar 00 | Americas
Brazil keeps it in the family
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