Brasília (AFP) - Brazil's vice president -- who would take over if Dilma Rousseff is impeached -- on Monday accidentally released the speech he'd give to the nation if she were forced to stand aside, reports said.
The appearance online of the 14-minute speech in which Vice President Michel Temer addresses "the Brazilian people" was immediately interpreted by Rousseff supporters as evidence for their claims that impeachment proceedings are a coup plot in disguise.
Temer's office told Folha newspaper that the vice president, who turned on Rousseff to become an opposition leader, was just practicing "on his cell phone and it was sent by accident."
In the leaked speech, Temer states that his "great mission from now is the calming of the country, the unification of the country." He calls on all parties to join "to pull the country out of crisis."
Temer would automatically assume the presidency if the Senate votes to put Rousseff on impeachment trial for allegedly illegal government accounting tricks.
But for that to happen, the lower house first needs to vote in about a week's time, with a two thirds majority required for the Senate to take up the case. The Senate would then have to vote to start the trial.
With Rousseff fighting hard to defeat the motion in the lower house, the outcome remains far from sure.
Despite the assurances that the recording was just a precautionary measure sent out by accident, some saw darker motives.
Rousseff's Workers' Party tweeted that Temer's premature speech to the nation reveals preparations for "a brazen coup plot."
And the bizarre twist in an already complex fight over Rousseff's future prompted lively exchanges on social media.
Some questioned whether the release of the presidential-style speech, which was quickly given widespread media coverage, really was accidental.
Others made fun of Temer, who according to a recent poll would only get one to two percent of the vote in a presidential election.
"For sure Temer's that fan in the stadium who shouts goal too early," said one tweet.