Paraguay congress set on fire by protesters

Paraguay Congress
Demonstrators in Paraguay have set fire to the country's Congress amid violent protests against a bill that would let the president seek re-election.

Demonstrators in Paraguay have set fire to the country’s Congress amid violent protests against a bill that would let the president seek re-election.

Protesters stormed the legislature, breaking windows and fences.

The country’s 1992 constitution, introduced after 35 years of dictatorship, strictly limits the president to a single five-year term.

But sitting President Horactio Cartes is attempting to remove the restriction and run for re-election.

Protesters were photographed setting fire to barricades in the streets of Asuncion, near the congress building, on Friday night.

The AFP news agency said the protesters had managed to break into the building and “ransacked” the offices of those who backed the bill, setting several fires.

Police used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

Earlier, the crowd took to the streets following a private meeting of senators, which approved a bill to amend the constitution.

The bill must also be approved by the other house of parliament – the chamber of deputies – where President Cartes’ party holds a majority.

The chamber’s president, Hugo Velázquez, told ABC Color (in Spanish) that the sitting planned for the following morning would no longer take place and no decision would be made on Saturday.

He urged people to stay calm.

Opponents say the bill will weaken the country’s democratic institutions.

Paraguay was controlled by dictator General Alfredo Stroessner, who seized power in a coup, from 1954 until 1989.

The new constitution in 1992 created the modern government, but there has been a long period of political instability and party infighting, as well as a failed coup attempt.

President Cartes’ term is due to end in 2018.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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