Security forces surrounded Paraguay’s Congress on Tuesday while lawmakers argued over a possible change in law that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election, a move that the opposition says would weaken democratic institutions. Hundreds took to the streets of the capital in opposition-led protests of the proposed change, though no incidents of violence were reported. Police remained outside the building well into the evening, and streets surrounding the Congress and presidential palace remained closed off. A bill allowing presidents to run for a second five-year term was defeated in the legislature last year.
This week a group of senators asked for a special session that the opposition interpreted as the start of a new campaign by Cartes and his coalition to enable presidential re-election.
That request was formally rejected on Tuesday, but Senator Julio Cesar Velazquez, a Cartes ally, convened a special session anyway with a group of legislators. They approved procedural changes that could pave the way for allowing presidential re-election.
Opposition leaders labeled this a “parliamentary coup” and filed a complaint with the country’s attorney general.