Institutional Coup Attempt in Paraguay

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An Ad Hoc council entered in session outside the Congress chamber, stepping over the authority of its President and assigning power to the second Vice President, in order to pass amends that weaken the restrictions on presidential reelections. The end goal is to allow Horacio Cartes to be reelected in 2018. 

By: Paulo César López / Source: E’a / The Dawn News / March 29, 2017

Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano
Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano

Last Monday, there were signs that began to warn us something was wrong. The Paraguayan Congress was surrounded by armed forces with tanks and snipers attempted to enter the building, while preventing congress representatives that opposed the amend from entering the building.

On Tuesday afternoon, an ad hoc council held a vote in an office adjacent to the chamber. They stepped over the authority of the President of the National Congress, Roberto Acevedo, and the second in the line of succession, Eduardo Petta, and had Second Vice President Julio César Velázquez preside this clandestine meeting in which 25 Senators modified internal regulations in order to eliminate restrictions on the need of quorum to treat and pass laws. Thus, the path was cleared for the project bill that allows reelection through an amend.

One of the Senators that participated in this institutional coup, Juan Darío Monges, said that they were forced to use this method because the President of Congress had ignored at least two requests to vote. Besides, he said, the Second Vice President of the Senate had to take over ‘in order to control the indiscipline and shouting, and had to let the document in’.

Meanwhile, the President of the Congress and 14 Senators presented a denounce to the Public Ministry against the ‘punishable acts agains the Constitution of the State and usurpation of public seats’. The document explains that a group of Senators had demanded an extraordinary session to be held to discuss modifications to the internal regulation, but he had rejected this request because it didn’t meet requirements such as including the project bill.

 

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