ASUNCION, Paraguay, (Reuters) - Paraguay's ruling Colorado Party
expelled former army chief Lino Oviedo from its ranks Saturday and
accused President Raul Cubas of violating democracy for refusing to send
the convicted rebel back to jail.
"The Colorado Party has resolved to exclude Lino Cesar Oviedo from the
party lists," a resolution signed by party president Bader Rachid said.
In a separate communique, the Colorado Party accused President Cubas of
defying the constitution for his decision on Friday to ignore a Supreme Court
ruling to send his friend and mentor Oviedo back to jail to serve out a
conviction for rebellion.
Defiance of the Supreme Court has "placed the holder of the executive office
in the zone of a de facto government," the party said.
The fate of the fiery populist and politically ambitious Oviedo has totally
the Colorado Party, which has been in continuous power in the landlocked
South American nation of five million people longer than any ruling political
party in the world except for Mexico's PRI.
Rachid said Oviedo, 54, could not remain a party member because he had
committed a serious criminal offense.
In a decree, Cubas said Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling that Oviedo
should serve out a 10-year sentence for rebellion "should be noted" and then
Oviedo was jailed in March by a military tribunal for holing up in barracks
April 1996, defying the orders of former President Juan Carlos Wasmosy to
abandon his command.
But Cubas freed him by decree shortly after taking office in August.
An outraged Congress complained to the Supreme Court which ruled that
the decree freeing him was unconstitutional.
A fiery orator fluent in the local Guarani Indian language spoken along
Spanish by many poorer Paraguayans, Oviedo was elected Colorado Party
presidential candidate last year but stepped down in favor of Cubas, a
wealthy businessman involved in construction, when he was jailed. He now
says he wants to campaign to become president in 2003.
His bitter enemy Wasmosy is also a Colorado member, as was former
dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, who was overthrown in a palace coup in
1989 after 35 years of corrupt dictatorship.
Copyright 1998 Reuters.