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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 02:15 GMT

World: Americas

Paraguay president resigns

Crowds in Asuncion celebrated the news of the resignation

Paraguay's President Raul Cubas has announced his resignation.

President Cubas had been facing impeachment proceedings, and his resignation comes shortly before a Senate vote was expected to remove him from office.

Stephen Cviic in Asuncion: The resignation prompted thousands to celebrate in the streets
The president has not admitted to any wrongdoing, and says he resigned in the interests of national reconciliation.

The resignation was greeted with celebrations in the streets and around the Congress building, the scene of violent clashes earlier in the week, a radio station in Asuncion reported.

The radio also said that fears of a military coup were now over.

The Paraguayan army has announced its support for Senate leader Luis Angel Gonzalez Macchi as the new president.

Stephen Cviic: Mr Cubas does not admit he did wrong
General Lino Oviedo, the president's ally whose release from prison prompted the impeachment proceedings, is reported to have left the country.

There were fears of a military takeover after Mr Cubas called out the army in reponse to civil unrest.


Large crowds of the president's opponents had gathered in the city earlier, for the funerals of four people killed in political violence on Friday.

[ image: President Cubas: Resigned days before impeachment vote due]
President Cubas: Resigned days before impeachment vote due
Protesters on the steps of the cathedral called for the president's resignation.

Supporters of the president have been blamed for firing into a crowd of demostrators during the protests which rocked the capital on Friday, leaving more than 100 people injured.

President Cubas responded by sacking the police chief responsible for the area.

Protests erupted following the assassination on Tuesday of Vice-President Luis Maria Argana, a political rival of President Cubas. Opposition groups have blamed the president for the killing.

'Abuse of power'

The impeachment charges against President Cubas related to accusations that he abused his power by freeing General Oviedo, who had been jailed for mounting a failed coup.

A defence lawyer told the Senate on Saturday that his client was the victim of a conspiracy.

The president's resignation comes a day before the trial was due to resume.

President Cubas had promised to accept the Senate's verdict in the trial.

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Paraguay Congress (in Spanish)

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