OAS Chief to Look Into Paraguay Leader's Ouster

by
Reuters
The secretary-general of the Organization of American States will travel to Paraguay to this week look into the ouster of President Fernando Lugo.

 

The secretary-general of the Organization of American States will travel to Paraguay to this week look into the ouster of President Fernando Lugo.

José Miguel Insulza said on Tuesday his fact-finding mission would include meetings with top-level officials, as well as Lugo, who was impeached by Paraguay's Congress in a matter of hours last Friday.

"I consider it my duty to gather all the background so that this (OAS) Permanent Council can take its decisions, and I also consider it my duty to hear the point of view of Paraguay and of other countries," Insulza said in a statement.

Insulza said he hoped to report back to the OAS next week.

He told a special session of the group's Permanent Council the objective of the organization during a crisis was to promote normal processes and to ensure that next year's elections in Paraguay were "carried out properly."

The 35-member OAS has in the past found diplomatic solutions to tricky regional issues.

Lugo's ouster has prompted criticism and sanctions abroad but the U.S. State Department is not calling it a coup because constitutional procedures were followed, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"The concerns that we've had, as we said, were that the process seemed to be extremely speedy," Nuland said. "I think we'll make our final conclusions on all of this as we see how the OAS comes forward."

Paraguayan lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove Lugo for failing to keep the peace after 17 police officers and peasant farmers died in clashes over a land eviction. The leftist leader was a year from completing a five-year term.

His former vice president and one of his harshest critics, Federico Franco, replaced him as president.