ASUNCION – Vice President Juan Afara and lawmakers of the ruling Colorado Party on Friday submitted to Paraguay’s election court 366,000 signatures in favor of calling a referendum on a proposal to amend the constitution so President Horacio Cartes can seek a second term in 2018.
Afara and the Colorado Party chairman, congressman Pedro Alliana, delivered the signatures to the tribunal in Asuncion accompanied by supporters with placards reading: “Let the People Decide.”
Alliana told reporters that the signatures must be certified by the Electoral Tribunal before they are presented to Congress in the form of a bill.
The minimum number of signers needed for the proposal to go to the legislature is 30,000.
The proponents expect the legislation to reach Congress by March, he said.
Responding to opposition criticism, Alliana said that only 10 percent of the signatures were those of public employees.
Assuming the signatures are validated, the bill needs approval from only one of the two congressional chambers to trigger a referendum.
Opposition parties – and even some dissident Colorados – contend that such a momentous change to the constitution requires the convening of a constituent assembly.
The main opposition Liberal Party announced last week it will move to impeach Cartes on charges of violating the constitution by campaigning for a second term when re-election is prohibited in the constitution.