ASUNCION – President Horacio Cartes opened talks on Wednesday in Asuncion in the wake of the violent protests that broke out in Paraguay in response to his efforts to amend the constitution to allow presidential re-election.
The Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), the South American country’s largest opposition party, is not attending the talks.
Senate president Roberto Acevedo, Chamber of Deputies speaker Hugo Velazquez and Asuncion Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela are participating in the talks behind closed doors at the Seminario Metropolitano.
The leaders of the Guasu Front and the governing Colorado Party are also attending the talks.
The Guasu Front, founded by former President Fernando Lugo, and the Colorado Party are backing the effort to allow presidents to serve more than one term.
PLRA president Efrain Alegre, however, skipped the talks and sent a letter Tuesday night to Cartes, telling the president that his party would not participate unless certain conditions were met.
Alegre said the PLRA would not take part in the talks unless the re-election amendment was withdrawn.
The Guasu Front supports the constitutional change because it would allow Lugo to run for the presidency in 2018, while the Colorado Party wants Cartes to get a shot at another term.
Violence erupted in Paraguay’s capital on March 31 after news broke that senators had passed a constitutional amendment to authorize presidential re-election during a closed-door session.
The motion was due to be brought to the lower house for another vote the next day, but plans were postponed by the Chamber of Deputies after protesters stormed and set fire to the legislative building, where both chambers are seated.
Current legislation in Paraguay limits the nation’s president to just one term, in line with measures implemented after the fall in 1989 of the Stroessner dictatorship in the landlocked South American country.
Alegre told EFE on Monday that his party was also demanding that action be taken against the police commanders responsible for the death of 25-year-old Roberto Quintana, who was shot dead when police stormed the PLRA’s headquarters just after midnight on March 31.