ASUNCION – Senators with the opposition Liberal Party asked on Thursday the head of Paraguay’s upper chamber of Congress, Roberto Acevedo, to return to the dialogue convened by President Horacio Cartes to deal with the country’s political situation after the wave of violence sparked by presidential re-election maneuvering.
Acevedo on Wednesday withdrew from the first dialogue session and set as the condition for his participation the shelving of the bill for a constitutional amendment allowing presidential re-election, which last week sparked a series of clashes in which part of the Congress building was set on fire.
Acevedo’s request is backed by seven of the eight liberal senators who last Friday voted for the amendment, which was denounced as “illegal” by Acevedo, who was not present for the vote.
The seven Liberal senators who voted for the bill signed the note asking Acevedo to participate in the dialogue in his capacity as Senate chief.
Participating in the first dialogue session – which was not attended by the Liberal Party, which also says it will not participate unless the amendment is withdrawn – were not only Acevedo and Cartes, but also Chamber of Deputies President Hugo Velazquez, with the governing Colorado Party, Asuncion Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela, and leaders of other parties with parliamentary representation.
One of those parties, the Avanza Pais group, which has two senators, both of whom are against the amendment bill, announced Wednesday evening that it would not return to the dialogue table.
Given the withdrawals, the Friday session will continue to be dominated by a majority of forces favoring the amendment, including the governing Colorado Party and the Guasu Front of former President Fernando Lugo, the two political groups that are pushing the controversial bill.
The protests last Friday, which created the biggest political crisis of Cartes’ presidency, began after 25 senators voted for the amendment at a meeting held at the Guasu Front’s congressional office.
The Front backs the amendment whereby Lugo could run for re-election in 2018, and the Colorado Party wants Cartes to do the same.