23 Jun 2012

Impeachment motion passed

1:42 pm on 23 June 2012

The Senate in Paraguay has voted to impeach President Fernando Lugo.

Both houses of Congress voted on Thursday to begin impeachment proceedings over his handling of clashes between farmers and police last Friday in which at least 17 people died.

Vice-President Federico Franco has been sworn in as president. He will serve until the end of Mr Lugo's five-year term in 2013.

The BBC reports the Colorado and Liberal parties put aside their differences and voted in favour of the motion to begin the impeachment trial. The Liberals are part of Mr Lugo's ruling coalition.

Mr Lugo was elected in 2008. He asked the Supreme Court on Friday to stop the proceedings.

The impeachment move was prompted by clashes in eastern Canindeyu province where police tried to evict 150 landless farmers from an estate owned by a wealthy businessman who is also a political opponent of Mr Lugo.

The farmers have argued the land was illegally taken during the rule of General Alfredo Stroessner from 1954-1989 and distributed among his allies.

The BBC reports land disputes are not unusual in Paraguay, where a fraction of the population owns about 80% of the land.