Paraguay president removed from office | News | DW | 23.06.2012
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Paraguay president removed from office

The president of Paraguay has been impeached and removed from office, having been judged by the country's senate to have failed in his duties. Fernando Lugo accepted the vote, but said that democracy was the loser.

There were some reports of violence outside the Congress building - with police using water cannon and tear gas against demonstrators angry at Lugo's removal - when the results of the vote were announced.

"Today it is not Fernando Lugo who has taken a blow," Lugo said, accepting the vote. "It's not Fernando Lugo, but Paraguayan democracy, that has been profoundly injured."

"May the blood of the just not be spilled," said Lugo, who appealed for peace after earlier accusing the lawmakers of a political coup.

During the swiftly-executed impeachment process, lawmakers in the upper house found Lugo guilty by 39 votes to 4 of poorly performing his duties on several accounts. Delegates in the upper-house had voted almost unanimously on Thursday to press ahead with the impeachment.

The right-wing Colorado Party, whose six-decade grip on power was ended by Lugo in 2008, joined the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, part of the ruling coalition, in the impeachment bid.

Vice President Federico Franco - a liberal and one of Lugo's harshest critics - is to replace the leftist leader for the remaining year of his term.

The surprise move against the 61-year-old Lugo came after at least six police and 11 peasant farmers died in clashes over land ownership.

Former clergyman Lugo, once seen as the champion of the poor, sacked his interior minister and the national police chief in an effort to diffuse the crisis. He appealed the impeachment proceedings before the Supreme Court, saying he had the right to delay the process for 18 days, to prepare his defense.

Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have denounced the proceedings as a "cover-up" for a coup d'etat.

Highlighting concerns about the democratic implications of the process, foreign ministers for the regional group UNASUR were sent to Paraguay on Friday.

rc/ncy (AFP, dpa, Reuters)