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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Paraguay leader sacks army head

Fernando Lugo
The opposition accuse Mr Lugo of seeking to hold on to power

Paraguay's president has sacked the head of the armed forces, after warning some officers were plotting a coup against him.

The commander has been replaced by a general seen as more loyal to President Fernando Lugo.

Two days ago he also replaced the heads of the army, navy and air force, after warning of what he called "pockets of coup-plotters" in the military.

The opposition has accused him of trying to strengthen his hold on power.

Rear Adm Ciber Benitez was the fourth military commander to be fired in just a few days by the president, who took office in August 2008.

He will be replaced by Gen Juan Oscar Velazquez, seen as very loyal to Mr Lugo.

Local media reported that the sacking follow rumours of meetings between senior military figures and the political opposition over the weekend.

Support for Mr Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, has been damaged by recent allegations that he fathered the children of three women during his time as a priest.

In May he admitted responsibility for one of the children but denies the other allegations.

Paraguay returned to democracy in 1989 after 35 years of military rule under Gen Alfredo Stroessner.



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