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.
The Djamaa El Djazair mosque will include a one-million book library, accommodate up to 120,000 worshippers and boast a 265m-high minaret
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the EU risks sliding into “nationalism” if it cannot secure its external borders against an immense wave of refugees. Merkel’s call coincides with reports that Berlin is pushing to establish a Germany-led EU army.
'We've had uniform people providing guidance to the State Department and they're in negotiations,' Pentagon says
'These individuals are in the most desperate situation imaginable,' White House says
Spokesman questioned about US lack of support for safe zone in northern Syria
'We are seeing aggression by one state against another, as well as an occupation,' Macierewicz says
London appears set to elect its first Muslim mayor Thursda with polls showing in Sadiq Khan's favor.
Federica Mogherini praises recommendation to abolish visas for citizens of Kosovo
Merkel says countries located on EU border should be supported more
Clashes ensued after car bomb attack at checkpoint in northwestern Libya
Use of shell companies to avoid tax will be targeted in a new measure by the White House
Campaign marks commemorations for 72nd anniversary marking forceful deportations of Crimean Tatars during Soviet era
Israel has held bodies of 18 Palestinians killed by its army after alleged attacks
Visa-free travel proposal will inflate numbers of Turkish tourists to Greek islands, Greek association official hopes
'We understand the tunnel was approximately 28 to 29 metres (100 feet) deep in the southern Gaza Strip, stretching from Gazan territory into Israel,' army says