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Paraguay Lawmakers Impeach President

  • VOA News

Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).

Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).

Lawmakers in Paraguay have voted to impeach President Fernando Lugo, after the botched eviction last week of peasant squatters that left several dead.

Immediately following his impeachment trial Friday, Lugo said he accepts the Congress' decision, but says Paraguay's democracy has been deeply wounded.

"Today, it's not Fernando Lugo who has been deposed. Today, it's not Fernando Lugo who is deposed. It's the Paraguayan story, it's democracy that has been profoundly hurt, in which all its principles of defense have been transgressed in a cowardly, treacherous way and I hope that its executors recognize the gravity of their deeds," said Lugo.

The Senate voted Friday to remove the president. The lower house of Congress voted in favor of impeachment Thursday. Lugo's political rivals control both houses of the Paraguayan Congress.

Thousands of supporters of Lugo gathered outside the Congress Friday and tried to break through police lines as the verdict was given. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd.

In line with Paraguay's constitution, Lugo was replaced by Vice President Federico Franco, who has been a strong opponent of the president.

Last week, Lugo ordered police to evict a group of peasant farmers who were squatting on a private estate. The farmers claim the land was acquired illegally. Violence broke out, leaving 11 peasants and six officers dead.

The impeached president is a former Roman Catholic bishop who was elected in 2008 on promises to help the poor and distribute land fairly.