Former Paraguayan general confirmed as presidential candidate
The former commander of the Paraguayan Army General Lino Cesar Oviedo who was freed from jail last September was confirmed Sunday as presidential candidate for the opposition National Union of Ethical Citizens, Unace, in the coming April general election.
"This is the official launching of my campaign for the April 20 election", said Oviedo at the party's political rally and vote on Sunday. The former general and at one time a leading force in the hegemonic Colorado Party which has dominated Paraguayan politics for the last 61 years, was jailed in June 2004 accused of conspiring to overthrown the government of President Juan Carlos Wasmosy in April 1996. He was freed last September after allegedly having served half of this ten year jail term. Between 1998 and 2004 he was on the run in Argentina and Brazil. Oviedo has always argued he was a victim of political persecution. Although Unace, the party he founded in 2000 has 310.000 registered affiliates only 20% turned out to vote for Oviedo. "There was much apathy because he was the only undisputed candidate and it's summer holiday time", said Raul Melamed a candidate for the Lower House. Considered a populist with support among Paraguay's poor Indian majority, Oviedo who masters several Indian dialects says he is the solution to the country's endemic corruption and poverty that affects up to half of the country's six million people. Oviedo will be competing for the presidency of Paraguay with Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop; Pedro Fadul from the Dear Fatherland party and whoever wins the ruling Partido Colorado primary. A former woman Education minister is the Colorado hopeful considered with greatest chances according to Asunción political analysts. Recent public opinion polls show Oviedo and bishop Lugo leading the presidential race. The April 20 presidential election will decide who succeeds Nicanor Duarte, the president, whose five-year term ends in August.