The Paraguayan Senate has summoned President Fernando Lugo for Friday midday to commence the political impeachment process which was voted almost unanimously in the Lower House (76 to 1) and will decide on his future.
Lugo is accused of incompetence in the performance of his Executive duties following the killings last week of 17 people during an eviction of peasants from occupied farmland and forest with the use of force following a court order.
President Lugo has to attend personally or through his solicitors or legal representatives.
According to the procedure approved by the Senate the five members of the Lower House voted to act as prosecutors in the case, will have an hour and a half to present evidence in support of their arguments to remove the president from office.
Then it will be President Lugo’s turn to his defence and try and convince Senate members of his performance as head of government and state. Originally he was to have three hours but then it was decided to cut the time to two hours.
This will be followed by another much briefer round from the prosecution and the defence opening the way for a full debate by senators that will rule that same Friday, unless it is decided to continue with the debate the following day.
If president Lugo is found guilty he will be immediately removed from office and Vice President Federico Franco takes over.
During the debates in the Lower House on Thursday the only member to defend President Lugo was his former Interior minister Carlos Filizzola who also criticized the celerity of the trial and demanded a several days time table for the discussion and consideration of the prosecution and defence positions.
Filizzola requested at least three days for the implementation of the procedure but was voted down by other members of the House.
Finally he accused the Senate process of a mockery and having the whole trial “already cooked” with the only intention of removing President Lugo from office.