President Horacio Cartes has said he will not seek another term as president in the upcoming election. The announcement comes weeks after violent protests that led to people setting fire to the country's congress.
Weeks after a secret vote approving a bill that would allow him to run again, Cartes announced in a public letter on Monday that he would not seek the presidency for the 2018 election.
In the statement, addressed to the Archbishop of Asuncion and shared on Twitter, Cartes said he was inspired to make his choice after hearing Pope Francis' call on April 2 to embrace peace by "avoiding all types of violence [and] looking for political solutions."
"I hope that this gesture of resignation serves to deepen direct dialogue on strengthening the institutions of the Republic, in harmony with Paraguayans," he said.
At the end of March violent riots broke out after the country's Senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment allowing Cartes to run for a second term, a change that would also require passage by the House. Following the collapse of the country's brutal dictatorship, Paraguay passed a constitution in 1992 that barred presidents from seeking a second term.
After the passage of the bill last month, opposition politician Desiree Masi said a "coup had been carried out."
Despite Cartes' announcement, Senator Lilian Samaniego said the leader's allies would continue to seek approval for the bill from the lower house. For a change on re-election policy to pass, however, citizens would need to approve it in a popular referendum.
blc/gsw (AFP, Reuters)