The speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress opened impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday, deepening a political crisis as the economy nosedives, reported Reuters.

Opposition parties first filed a request to impeach Rousseff in September, accusing the unpopular president of violating Brazil’s fiscal laws and manipulating government finances to help her win re-election last year.

Lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha finally said he had agreed to open proceedings.

Mr Cunha had been threatening to open impeachment proceedings if the governing party did not offer him backing, says the BBC’s Julia Carneiro in Rio de Janeiro.

His decision was “purely technical”, he said.

“It was a difficult decision. I did not become speaker of the Chamber of Deputies aiming to approve impeachment proceedings against the president,” said Mr Cunha.

The impeachment request had been filed by a distinguished jurist, Helio Bicudo, and some opposition members.

According to BBC, the process is based on allegations Ms Rousseff broke the law in managing last year’s budget, Eduardo Cunha said.

Despite re-election last year, her popularity has slumped amid a corruption scandal involving the state-owned oil giant, Petrobras.

“I was outraged by the decision,” said Ms Rousseff in a televised speech.

“I haven’t committed any wrongful act,” she added.

Ms Rousseff, who earlier called an emergency cabinet meeting, said she was confident that the impeachment motion would be rejected.

Two-thirds of the lower house must approve the process for it to proceed.

The governing coalition has a majority in the lower house of Congress.

The defeated opposition candidate in last year’s presidential election, Senator Aecio Neves, has tweeted that he supports the impeachment request.

“Everyone in the country must obey the law, especially the president,” he wrote.

Dozens of politicians, including Cunha, have been implicated in a price-fixing and political kickback scheme uncovered at state-run oil company Petrobras. He has denied the allegations.