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Paraguay Delays Constitution Change Vote

Journalists seen outside the presidential residence during a meeting of senators, deputies, governors and local leaders with Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes in Asuncion, Paraguay, on April 3.Journalists seen outside the presidential residence during a meeting of senators, deputies, governors and local leaders with Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes in Asuncion, Paraguay, on April 3.

According to legislative sources on Monday, Paraguay’s lower house is delaying a vote on an amendment to the constitution that would allow current and previous presidents to stand for reelection, after violent protests broke out in the capital.

The move would allow current President Horacio Cartes and leftist former president Fernando Lugo—impeached in 2012 via a parliamentary coup—to run in 2018, teleSUR reported.

Senators opposed to reelection asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the vote and force the lower house not to vote on the measure, while new protests are planned in front of Congress for Monday night.

Late on Sunday in a Facebook post, Cartes, a former soft-drink and tobacco businessman, called on different political factions to meet and discuss ways to reduce tensions in the South American country of 6.8 million.

The message, which avoided any mention of the constitutional amendment, came after Pope Francis publicly called for a national dialogue.

Hugo Velazquez, the head of the lower house and Cartes ally, told journalists that as long as dialogue continues “and we are trying to find solutions to the problems we have, the chamber of deputies will not consider the amendment”.

On Friday, a young protestor was fatally shot by anti-riot police after supporters of the opposition Liberal Party set parts of the Congress building on fire. The violence began after a group of senators called a special closed-door meeting outside of the Senate chamber and without the president of the Senate, Roberto Acevedo.

Twenty-five lawmakers voted for the measure, two more than the 23 required for passage in the 45-member upper chamber.

Paraguay’s 1992 Constitution prohibits presidential reelection, a sensitive subject ever since a 35-year dictatorship fell in 1989.

 

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