ASUNCION – Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes said on Monday he would not seek another term in 2018, abandoning his effort to amend the constitution following protests and a wave of violence in the capital last month.
The 60-year-old Cartes announced his decision in a letter to Paraguayan Bishops Conference head Edmundo Valenzuela that was posted on Twitter.
Violence erupted in Paraguay’s capital on March 31 after news broke that the Senate had passed a constitutional amendment to authorize presidential re-election during a closed-door session.
The motion was due to be brought to the lower house for another vote the next day, but plans were postponed by the Chamber of Deputies after protesters stormed and set fire to the legislative building, where both chambers are seated.
Current legislation in Paraguay limits the nation’s president to just one term, in line with measures implemented after the fall in 1989 of the Stroessner dictatorship in the landlocked South American country.
Earlier in the day, the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), Paraguay’s largest opposition party, had joined other parties in calling for a march Tuesday in Asuncion against the bill to allow presidential re-election.
The PLRA called on people to take to the capital’s streets and said it would continue to boycott the talks organized by Cartes to discuss the constitutional amendment.
“Paraguay’s men and women want to live in peace and want respect for our constitution, and we will only find peace if we travel on the path of the law, on the path of the constitution,” PLRA president Efrain Alegre said during a press conference in Asuncion’s Plaza de Armas.
Alegre said the opposition party wanted answers about the death of 25-year-old Roberto Quintana, who was shot when police stormed the PLRA’s headquarters just after midnight on March 31.
The Guasu Front, founded by former President Fernando Lugo, and the Colorado Party were backing the effort to allow presidents to serve more than one term.
The Guasu Front supported the constitutional change because it would allow Lugo to run for the presidency in 2018, while the Colorado Party had wanted Cartes to get a shot at another term.