Date: Sun, 17 May 98 15:12:50 CDT
From: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Subject: PARAGUAY: Imminent Split in Ruling Party
/** ips.english: 494.0 **/
** Topic: POLITICS-PARAGUAY: Imminent Split in Ruling Party **
** Written 4:12 PM May 15, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
ASUNCION, May 12 (IPS)—After the triumph will come a split, predict two prominent local analysts with respect to the internal situation in Paraguay's Colorado Party, which added a new five-year term to its half century in power in Sunday's elections.
Former army chief Lino Oviedo will be released from prison through a
pardon or an amnesty, and his
exclusive hegemony over the
Colorado Party, ensured by the victory of his crony Raul Cubas, means
an imminent rupture in the party, says Jose Morinigo with the
Political scientist Line Bareiro with the Centre of Documentation and Studies agrees that a split will soon be seen in the ruling party. Until the last minute, the party's internal disputes had made it uncertain as to whether the elections would even take place.
Now that the party has successfully overcome one of the only real
threats to its hold on power in the past 50 years, and defeated the
opposition Democratic Alliance, the
friction will not take long
to re-emerge among the Colorado Party leadership, especially if a
supposed internal accord to offer Oviedo the presidency of the party
is confirmed, says Morinigo.
The heads of the armed forces are opposed to Oviedo serving in the new government, to enter office on Aug. 15. The compromise solution reportedly hit on by the various factions of the Colorado Party would be to offer the party leadership to Oviedo, who would thus replace Luis Maria Argana, Paraguay's future vice-president.
The military chiefs fear reprisals from Oviedo, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special military tribunal in March after being found guilty of leading an April 1996 attempted coup against President Juan Carlos Wasmosy. The former general is currently being held in the first Infantry Division.
I don't believe that any officer need worry, because we are not
here to avenge ourselves on anyone, president-elect Cubas said
According to the votes tallied so far—around 7,000 of the 10,000 voting circuits—Cubas garnered 54 percent of the vote against the opposition Democratic Alliance's 42 percent.
Cubas' victory was recognised Monday by the Democratic Alliance,
which replaced its denunciations of fraud with a milder warning that
keep a close eye on the election results.
Members of Cubas' political team and Colorado Senator Arnaldo Rojas announced that in the new legislature—which begins to session on Jul. 1—they would sponsor an amnesty law that will release Oviedo from prison and allow former dictator Alfredo Stroessner (1954-89), in exile in Brazil, to return home.
Oviedo, a sworn enemy of President Wasmosy, was poll favourite until disqualified as presidential candidate in April, when the Supreme Court upheld the sentence handed down by the military tribunal and confirmed his dishonourable discharge from the army.
The new political winds, favourable to the former general, also affect the Supreme Court. The president of the Court, Raul Sapena, whose vote was decisive in upholding the military tribunal's ruling, announced Monday that he was withdrawing from the case against Oviedo.
President-elect Cubas, a 54-year-old business tycoon and former
finance minister, thanked the Democratic Alliance for accepting his
victory and proposed a broad-based dialogue.
We should sit down and
talk, because this country belongs to all of us, said Cubas, who
thus toned down a previous statement that
democracy in Paraguay
begins with and depends on the Colorado Party.
Cubas invited Democratic Alliance presidential candidate Domingo Laino
to meet with him
to see how we can all together make this country a
According to the votes tallied so far, the Colorado Party once again will enjoy an absolute majority in parliament, which it had not achieved since the 1989 elections.
But Cubas said that there is no
granitic unity, and the
divisions among ruling party legislators
will help the government
be more democratic. He also admitted that the accord between the
various Colorado factions was precarious.
Analysts point out that Cubas is aware that he will have to work hard to obtain the votes of the nine senators allied with Argana for his privatisation initiatives, which will affect the vice-president-elect's influence in the public administration.
Wasmosy, backed by only a portion of his party, has been able to govern thanks to the support of Laino's Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), which voted in favour of the key draft laws submitted by the Wasmosy administration.
The so-called governance pact dating back to 1995 allowed the opposition to place men of confidence in the Supreme Court, the General Comptroller's office, the Superior Court of Electoral Justice and other key state entities.
But the scales have also shifted within the opposition Alliance. Criticism for Sunday's defeat centred on the scarce electoral pay-offs obtained by collaborating with the Wasmosy administration, which has governed since 1993.
Local analysts say voters saw Oviedo's Colorado faction as an
alternative for change even better-defined than the Democratic
Laino thought that his figure alone was enough for
the opposition to win, said PLRA leader Felino Amarilla, a radio
The Democratic Alliance's campaign manager, Senator Luis Guanes,
assumed his share of responsibility for the defeat:
has parents, so I'll keep the baby, he joked.
But he added that
this country lost a lot, and we all lost, because
we staged a positive, well-programmed campaign with a clear platform,
while the press was only interested in the Colorado Party's
internal problems, on whether there would be a coup or whether Oviedo
would be released.
Paraguay began moving backwards in time on Sunday, said Guanes,
who warned that
the Colorado Party will have to learn to govern on
The centrist PLRA and social democratic 'Encuentro Nacional', the two pillars of the Democratic Alliance, said the coalition would not give up the fight. The Alliance, which controlled the out-going Senate, will have only 21 seats in the new legislature, against the Colorado Party's 24.