A demonstrator protests in Asuncion on Friday. Pic/AFP
Asuncion: Protesters stormed and set fire to Paraguay's Parliament on Friday after the Senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. The country's constitution has prohibited re-election since it was passed in 1992 after a brutal dictatorship fell in 1989.
"A coup has been carried out. We will resist, and we invite the people to resist with us," said senator Desiree Masi from the opposition Progressive Democratic Party.
President Horacio Cartes
Firefighters managed to control the flames after protesters left the Congress building late on Friday. But protests continued in other parts of Asuncion and the country well into the night, the media reported. Earlier, TV images showed protesters breaking windows of the Congress and clashing with the police, burning tires and removing parts of fences around the building. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
Many politicians and journalists were injured, and interior minister Tadeo Rojas said policemen were hurt. The number of casualties was unknown.
Cartes called for calm and a rejection of violence in a statement released on Twitter. "Democracy is not conquered or defended with violence and you can be sure this government will continue to put its best effort into maintaining order in the republic," he said.
25 No. of lawmakers voting for the measure