Paraguay’s parliament has voted to begin impeachment proceedings against President Fernando Lugo, after seven police officers and at least nine landless farmers were killed during a violent land eviction in the east of the country last week.
The lower house of congress, which is dominated by Paraguay’s opposition Liberal Party, supported the motion by 73 votes to one on Thursday. The vote will now go before the opposition-controlled Senate for approval, the BBC reported. Lugo, who is the leader of a coalition government, became president in 2008, and his term is set to end in August next year.
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According to the Agence France Presse, clashes broke out last Friday when 300 police officers arrived at a private forest reserve owned by wealthy businessman and Lugo opponent Blas Riquelme in Curuguaty, 250 kilometers northeast of the capital Asuncion, to remove around 150 peasants squatting on the land.
Lugo was forced to accept the resignations of his interior minister and his chief of police over the incident, according to the Associated Press. The president has come under intense political pressure since the bloodshed, but in a national TV broadcast Thursday vowed to remain in office:
"This president announces that he is not going to present his resignation and that he will fully respect the constitution and the law to face the impeachment trial and its full consequences," he said, according to Reuters.
"There is no valid cause – neither legal nor political – to make me resign," Lugo added.
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