December 5, 1998
Paraguay's ruling party expels Oviedo


                  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 split
                  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 in
                  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 with
                  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.