|Paraguay crisis deepens, LatAm nations reject dismissal of president||
On Friday, Paraguayans clashed with police outside the Congress building in Asuncion, shortly after it was announced that the Senate had voted to remove President Lugo from office, Press TV reported.
The lower house of the Paraguayan Congress impeached Lugo on Thursday, and the Senate opened his trial on Friday and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting Lugo.
Lugo was immediately replaced by Vice President Federico Franco, a ferocious opponent of the leftist leader. Franco was sworn in as the new president of Paraguay on Friday evening.
"Although the law's been twisted like a fragile branch in the wind, I accept Congress' decision," Lugo said in a speech on national television after lawmakers found him guilty of performing his duties badly during a land dispute that left 17 people dead.
He added that "the history of Paraguay and its democracy have been deeply wounded."
"Today I retire as president, but not as a Paraguayan citizen," he said. "May the blood of the just not be spilled."
His quick acceptance of his ouster appeared to have prevented a bigger confrontation and potentially violent protests in the streets of Asuncion, where his supporters had gathered. But other South American presidents were critical of the impeachment trial, which several called a de-facto coup d'etat, The Associated Press reported.
The breakneck speed of the impeachment process raised concerns in other South American capitals, and a few dispatched their foreign ministers to Asuncion. Some countries even warned of the possibility of imposing sanctions on Paraguay.
"This goes beyond Fernando Lugo. It goes beyond Paraguay. It's about true democracy for all of our America," said Ecuador's leftist president, Rafael Correa, adding that his government will not recognize any government in Paraguay other than Lugo's.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he won't recognize the "illegal and illegitimate government" that replaced Lugo either. Chavez said his ally "preferred the sacrifice" of stepping aside, and that the trial had been a setup.
In Argentina, the government of President Cristina Fernandez said it "is not going to validate the coup d'etat that just occurred" in Paraguay. Bolivian President Evo Morales also called it a coup.
The Senate tried Lugo on five charges of malfeasance in office. After the five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to dismiss Lugo, while four senators voted against the motion and two were absent. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.
Earlier, Lugo had said the entire impeachment process was equivalent to a coup.
"It is more than a coup d'etat, it's a parliamentary coup dressed up as a legal procedure," an angry Lugo said on Paraguayan radio.
After the Senate announced the decision, several thousand Lugo supporters took to the streets to condemn the move and express support for the man they still view as the president of the country. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used water cannon to disperse the protesters.
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|Last Updated on 23 June 2012 17:03|