Furious protesters stormed Paraguay’s legislature, ransacked lawmakers’ offices and set fires after senators approved a law allowing the country’s president to be re-elected.
A protester was killed by a rubber bullet fired by police and about 30 people were injured, including three lawmakers, according to firefighters and an opposition senator.Right-wing President Horacio Cartes is seeking to reform the constitution to let him run for office again in an election in 2018 after his current term ends. Paraguay is still recovering from the 35 year-long dictatorship of general Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).
To chants of “Dictatorship never again!” hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police and broke into the congress building, battering down entrances and fences and shattering windows. Once inside, the demonstrators ransacked the offices of lawmakers who backed the reform and started fires, television images showed.Flames could be seen coming from large parts of the building.
Police used mounted units and water cannon to try and disperse the rioters. Mr Cortes’ allies in the upper house of the legislature passed the bill on Friday, sidestepping resistance from opponents who say the it clears the way for dictatorships.Since 1992 Paraguay has banned re-election in an attempt to avoid a return to dictatorships such as that of Stroessner.