Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo has been ousted by the country’s Senate by a vote of 39 to 4 during a rapid impeachment trial on Friday, leaving the former priest to step aside, although he considered the ouster a blow to the country’s democracy.
The country’s vice president, Federico Franco, was immediately sworn in as president, while Lugo’s supporters took to the streets to protest, even battling riot police at times. The ousted president, who was originally elected on a promise to help the poor, was able to avert a larger conflict by appearing on TV to state he will comply with the senate’s vote, according to ABC News.
Former President Fernando Lugo stated, “I say goodbye as president,” remaining composed while he mentioned that the country’s democracy “has been deeply wounded.”
The newly elected President Franco had parted ways with Lugo in recent years, and stated, while donning the presidential sash triumphantly, “At this time, God and destiny wanted me to assume the presidency.”
The Huffington Post reports that Franco also stated:
“The country is calm. I was elected (as vice president) in 2008 by popular vote. Activity is normal and there is no protest.”
He made his first order of business as Paraguay’s new President to appoint Carmelo Caballero as Interior Minister, tasking him with maintaining public order in the landlocked, poor nation. He also appointed Jose Felix Fernandez as Foreign Minister, stating that he will immediately be traveling to different countries that are fellow members of the Mercosur and Unasur regional trade blocks, in an attempt to appease them. Franco stated:
“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.”