Paraguay’s President Impeached By Senate Resigns
The President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, on Saturday announced that he would step aside from office after the Senate of the country impeached him by a swift impeachment trial on Friday. Lugo, former leftist priest, said he deemed his removal from office as a blow to democracy in his country.
The Vice President Federico Franco was rapidly sworn in as president while people took to the streets protesting the ousting of the president, who took power after promising the people to end poverty. The president averted more unrest by announcing that he was renouncing the office as a result of the decision made by the parliament.
Lugo was judged by the Senate for five charges related to poor execution of office, one of them being the poor management of the conflict between police and landless people, which ended in the death of 17 people.
The trial lasted for five hours and the vote was of 39 to four in favor of impeachment, while two of the senators were absent. The vote in Senate came one day after the Congress, the lower house of the parliament, voted for his impeachment.
Lugo’s political demise marks four years of political unbalance between his uncompromising policies and the political partners, who found it more and more difficult to work with him.
People took to the streets of the cities to express their support for him and it took water canons and riot police to drive them from the streets. Lugo is said to have watched the procedures from the presidential office, refusing to attend the session.
The Senate refused the demand made by the lawyers to offer him an 18-day period to mount of defense. The parliament chamber decided that there were no grounds for such a request.
ABC reports that the trial was triggered by an attempt of the police to evacuate 150 farmers from 2,000 hectares of forest reserves, which is part of a huge estate of a Colorado Party politician. The advocates for the farmers say that the land was taken decades ago through political influence, and contended that it should be put to better use for the agrarian reform.
The incident brought the resignation of the interior minister and the chief of police, both of them accepted by the president. The other four counts Senate judged were allowing the leftists to have a meeting on a military base; allowing an illegal invasion of a Brazilian soybean farm; the failure to apprehend a guerilla movement; and the signing of an international protocol without the consultation of the Congress.
Lugo won the elections in 2008 with the help of the Authentic Radical Liberal party of Federico Franco, but their political friendship ended soon after, as the former priest offered the leftists most of the positions in the new government.
Soon after the president said he was bidding farewell as president, Franco expressed satisfaction that Lugo’s reign has ended. He is to be president until the mandate of the impeached president is over, that is August 2013.11