Paraguayan President Mario Abdo survives parliament impeachment vote

Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez talks with the media after a meeting with his counterpart Chilean Sebastian Pinera in Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Luque, Paraguay.

Paraguayan opposition lawmakers lost a bid on Wednesday to impeach President Mario Abdo over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Abdo’s conservative government has faced fierce protests in recent weeks as a surge in COVID-19 cases has left hospitals on the brink of collapse and out of drugs, while the country has been slow to secure vaccines.

Opposition lawmakers in the lower house of deputies put forward the motion to impeach Abdo.

Fifty-three votes were needed for the motion to pass and in the end, the president was thrown a lifeline by a voting bloc within the ruling Colorado Party led by former President Horacio Cartes.

“Just because you have a majority does not always mean you are right,” said opposition deputy Edgar Acosta during the plenary session. “They may have won the political trial but they lost the citizen’s trial.”

Those who argued against the motion said the country needed stability to move forward with the purchase of vaccines and medicine critical to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The failed push will nonetheless pile further pressure on Abdo’s government, which has been forced to shuffle several ministers, including the health minister and chief of staff, to help calm public anger.

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