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Ousted Paraguay Leader Denounces 'Coup'

Paraguay's former President Fernando Lugo waves to followers gathered outside the Public Television building in downtown Asuncion, June 24, 2012.
Paraguay's Fernando Lugo has denounced his ouster as president as a “parliamentary coup.” Lugo, however, urged his supporters Sunday to remain “peaceful” and not participate in any violent demonstrations.

Paraguay’s new president, Federico Franco, said Saturday he intends to ask his impeached predecessor for help in stemming the regional outcry surrounding Lugo’s swift removal from office.

Brazil and Argentina have withdrawn their top diplomats from Paraguay, while Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba have said they would not recognize the new administration.

Lawmakers in Paraguay voted to impeach President Lugo, after a botched eviction earlier this month of peasant squatters that left several dead.

Critics of the impeachment complained that Lugo’s lawyers had only a few hours to defend him in the Senate, which voted 39 to 4 in favor of his removal.

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

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

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

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

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.