Diplomatic fallout after Paraquay impeaches president | News | DW | 24.06.2012
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Diplomatic fallout after Paraquay impeaches president

Paraguay's newly sworn in president, Federico Franco set about forming a new government late Saturday, pledging to honor foreign commitments, and to help "decompress" tensions over his predecessors' swift impeachment.

Fernando Lugo's removal from office prompted Argentina and Brazil to pull out their ambassadors from the country.

Just one day into the job, Franco told reporters in Asuncion that reaching out to Latin America in an attempt to minimize the diplomatic fallout from Lugo's ouster was also high on his agenda.

"The country is calm. I was elected [as vice president] in 2008 by popular vote. Activity is normal and there is no protest," Franco told the press as he tried to play up a sense of normality among the nation's ruling party.

Franco, Paraguay's former vice president, was sworn in Friday after parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of removing Lugo from office, saying he had been unsuccessful in his duty to maintain social harmony. This drew immediate condemnation from other Latin American leaders who called it a de facto coup. Several countries' leaders said they would seek to have Paraguay expelled from regional groups.

Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner announced the removal of her ambassador to the country, late on Saturday, saying the embassy's deputy would remain in charge "until democratic order is re-established in the country."

Cuba's leaders have said they do not recognize the new government and called Lugo's ouster a "parliamentary coup d'etat executed against the constitutional President Fernando Lugo and the brother people of Paraguay."

The Chilean government said Lugo's removal "did not comply with the minimum standards of due process," and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said "legal procedures shouldn't be used to abuse. ... What we want is to help stability and democracy be maintained in Paraguay."

Interior Minister Carmelo Caballero was the first of two appointments made by the new leader; he has been given the task of maintaining public order within the country.

Foreign Minister Jose Felix Fernandez will be sent immediately to other members of the Mercosur and Unasur regional trade blocs: "Our foreign minister will go to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to meet with authorities and explain to them that there was no break with democracy here. The transition of power through political trial is established in the national constitution," Franco said.

jlw/ar (Reuters, AP, dpa)