World Bulletin / News Desk
Paraguay's new center-right president swore in his cabinet on Monday as neighboring nations intensified diplomatic pressure over the sudden impeachment of his leftist predecessor, Fernando Lugo.
Federico Franco took office on Friday, moments after Lugo - a former Roman Catholic bishop - was ousted by the opposition-controlled Congress in an impeachment hearing that lasted less than six hours.
Lugo's sudden ouster a year from the end of his term has drawn strong criticism and diplomatic sanctions from many governments in a region scarred by coups and political instability in the 1970s and 1980s.
They want to send a stern warning about the consequences of removing a democratically elected leader, even if Lugo's chances of returning to power appear remote.
Lugo initially said he accepted Congress's decision, prompting some governments to recognize Franco's administration. He has taken a tougher line, however, as regional pressure mounts on Franco - Lugo's former vice president and one of his harshest critics.
On Monday, Lugo compared himself to former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009 by the army on the basis of a court order that had backing from Congress.
Senator Carlos Filizzola, a close Lugo ally and former interior minister, said "re-establishing democratic order means that President Lugo, who was elected legally and legitimately ... returns to the post that is rightfully his."
Franco held his first cabinet meeting on Monday and the president of Congress, Jorge Oviedo Matto, shrugged off the international pressure and said the change of government was "irreversible" and in line with the constitution.
Franco's administration has been banned from attending a summit this week of the Mercosur trade bloc, which also groups Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, and many countries have called back their ambassadors, permanently or for consultations.
Lugo will take part in the gathering and officials say Paraguay could be suspended from the bloc and the UNASUR group of South American nations will meet on Friday during the Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argentina, to discuss the crisis.
Lugo's removal was triggered by clashes that killed six police and 11 peasant farmers during a land eviction earlier this month.
Paraguay is one of the poorest countries in South America and Lugo, 61, vowed to improve the quality of life of low-income families when his election ended six decades of rule by the conservative Colorado party.
But he struggled to push reforms, including land redistribution to poor peasant farmers, through Congress. A cancer scare and several paternity scandals dating back to his time as a bishop added to his difficulties.
When his allies from the Liberal Party formally withdrew support for him on Thursday, they cleared the way for the impeachment trial.
Franco named economist Manuel Ferreira as economy minister and said Jorge Corvalan would stay on at the central bank.
Assembly's ethics committee also announces intention to grill electoral commission over corruption allegations
Bakir Izetbegovic, the leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Bosnia, represents Bosniaks (Muslims) in the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Three people including a NATO representative have been killed in a missile facility explosion
At least 2 people have been injured in an attack in Nigeria
With many moments highlighting the four day convention, the most emotional of all was the speech of Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq
French PM Valls has said called for imams to be trained in France and that a ban should be in place for the foreign funding of mosques
Demonstrators decry deadly coup attempt in Turkey; demand Gulen's extradition
Boris Johnson insists relations are warm after French foreign minister had accused him earlier of having ‘lied a lot’
A draft resolution calling on all parties to cease all violence with the deployment of a UN police force in Burundi will be voted on today
Hillary Clinton has accepted the nomination for the Democrats saying that she would be 'president for Democrats, Republicans and independents'
German Chancellor says Ankara should prosecute coup plotters with all means and possibilities within rule of law
Dozen killings in last 2 months have largely targeted ruling African National Congress members
Gulen's terrorist organization FETO has extended networks in western Balkans since 1990s
With latest payment, company's financial assistance from European Commission totals more than €10 million