By Ria Novosti
The countries of South American trading bloc Mercosur have decided to bar Paraguay’s new leader from attending their summit due June 29, the Argentinian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry said the decision was due to “a gross violation of democratic norms in Paraguay” following the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo by the country’s parliament.
Paraguay’s Congress voted overwhelmingly on Friday to remove Lugo from office over the June 15 deadly clashes between farmers and police officers.
Leftist Lugo has faced strong condemnation over his mishandling of a forced land eviction in which seven police officers and at least ten farmers were killed.
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay make part of Mercosur. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are the bloc’s associate members.
Liberal Vice President Federico Franco, whose party supported the impeachment, took over as president until April 2013, when Paraguay holds presidential and parliamentary elections.
Lugo, a former Catholic priest, compared the move to a coup. At first he said he would obey the decision, but later pledged to do everything he could to press for a peaceful return to the presidential post.
The ouster was criticized by many countries, while Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia recalled their top diplomats from Asuncion for consultations or as protest against the impeachment decision.
The Mercosur summit is set to consider the situation in Paraguay.