Franco promises to uphold democracy and honour international agreements
Paraguayan vice-president Federico Franco, 49, was sworn-in on Friday afternoon as president following Fernando Lugo’s impeachment that had him removed in less than two days.
Little over an hour after Lugo’s removal from power was voted from Congress, Franco was sworn in as the new Head of State, a post he will hold until August 2013, following Paraguayan presidential elections in April.
Franco, a surgeon by profession, is married to lawmaker Emilia Alfaro of the Liberal Radical Authentic Party (PLRA), with whom he has four children. He was the Governor of the Central area between 2003 and 2008 representing the PLRA and his family has been longed involved in politics.
In a brief speech after taking the oath before members of Congress Franco promised to uphold democracy, the rule of law, human and social rights, honour international agreements and revealed that he had been talking with the members of the Unasur delegation of Foreign secretaries specially sent to Paraguay on Thursday evening to try and mediate in the political crisis.
The delegation included Brazil’s Antonio Patriota, Argentina’s Hector Timerman and Unasur Secretary General, Venezuela’s Alí Rodríguez.
Franco called on all political parties with congressional representation to help him rule the country because he knows his duties and responsibilities but “I don’t have all the knowledge and need your support so that in August 2013 we deliver a better and more developed country to whoever is democratically elected by the Paraguayan people”.
Franco also appealed to Congress to legislate on land possession and vote the necessary funds so that rural families can farm their plots and there is not a repeat of the 17 deaths last week killed when a confrontation between landless peasants and police forces which ultimately triggered the impeachment of former president Lugo.
However during the presentation of evidence by prosecutors it was also mentioned that the removed president not only was responsible for his slow reaction to the killings, but in other actions had sponsored political rallies of young Socialists (faithful to him) in Army barracks and having a soft hand with a budding guerrilla movement Paraguayan Popular Army responsible for ransom kidnappings of farmers and killings of rural police and even soldiers.
Following the killings last week Lugo fired his Interior Minister, the police force leadership and named a investigation committee with support from the Organisation of American States, but apparently it was not enough.
Franco promised to complete his new cabinet during the weekend and already named the Interior and Foreign Affairs ministers, both old hands from previous governments.
The caretaker president is expected to have sufficient support in Congress although much will depend with the Colorado party, which has dominated Paraguayan politics for seven decades and only lost the presidency when Lugo was voted with the support of a catch-all coalition that rapidly split up.
But the Colorado party is also divided and convinced it will recover the presidency next May and potential presidential hopefuls are making their moves including one which seems to be leading in influence, but is questioned by Washington for alleged contacts with drug trafficking and money laundering.