April 5, 1999

Paraguay government annuls decree freeing Oviedo

                  ASUNCION, Paraguay, April 5 (Reuters) -- Paraguay's provisional
                  government said on Monday it has annulled a decree freeing imprisoned
                  coup leader Lino Oviedo, who was granted asylum in Argentina last month.

                  "With this decree, the Executive Branch is reestablishing a state of law that
                  was broken under the last presidency," said Secretary of the Presidency
                  Juan Ernesto Villamayor. "We are trying to repair the current damage."

                  Villamayor said the new decree annuls the ruling that freed Oviedo.

                  The former army chief was convicted of leading a failed coup attempt in
                  1996 but was freed in August by his good friend and close political associate
                  then-President Raul Cubas. Cubas' action pushed Paraguay to the brink of a
                  constitutional crisis.

                  The poor South American nation was plunged into turmoil still further last
                  month when Vice President Luis Maria Argana was murdered.

                  His followers blamed Cubas and Oviedo, Argana's political rivals, and
                  launched a tumultuous week of riots and protests, which resulted in the death
                  of six protesters and hundreds of injuries.

                  Cubas resigned the presidency under pressure amid the turmoil, fleeing to
                  Brazil where he was given asylum. Oviedo also fled, and was granted
                  political asylum in Argentina after Cubas' fall.

                  A Paraguayan judge last week asked Interpol to capture Oviedo for his role
                  in the deaths of the six protesters. And Paraguayan authorities said this
                  weekend they were preparing to file an extradition request.

                  Argentine officials had said earlier that granting Oviedo asylum was a way of
                  diffusing tensions within Paraguay and have said they will consider a formal
                  extradition request from Paraguay if they receive one.

                  Senate chief Luis Gonzalez Macchi took over the country's presidency after
                  Cubas resigned.