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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ASUNCION598 2008-08-28 13:01:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Asuncion
Cable title:  

SENATE TUG-OF-WAR OVER DUARTE'S SENATE SEAT

Tags:   PGOV PA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAC #0598 2411301
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281301Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7201
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ASUNCION 000598 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC MDRUCKER AND CCROFT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2033
TAGS: PGOV PA
SUBJECT: SENATE TUG-OF-WAR OVER DUARTE'S SENATE SEAT

REF: A. ASUNCION 415

B. ASUNCION 475

C. 07 ASUNCION 144

D. 07 ASUNCION 613

E. 07 ASUNCION 636

F. 07 ASUNCION 739

G. 07 ASUNCION 910

Classified By: A/DCM John Beed for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: Senate President Enrique Gonzalez Quintana
swore former president and Colorado senator-elect Nicanor
Duarte Frutos in as senator August 26 without quorum or
Senate vote -- provoking outrage in the Senate. Hours later,
Liberal Senate Vice President Oscar Denis Sanchez convened an
emergency Senate session, and the quorum of senators voted to
give Duarte's seat to substitute senator Colorado Jorge
Cespedes and nullify Gonzalez' unilateral action. Gonzalez'
decision to swear in Duarte as senator lends credence to
claims that Duarte and National Union of Ethical Citizens
(UNACE) leader Lino Oviedo struck a deal that released Oviedo
from jail last fall in exchange for Oviedo's and UNACE's
support for Duarte's plan to take office as senator. The
Senate's deadlock over Duarte's future underscores that
Paraguay's Congress is more interested in personal politics
than substantive political reform. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) Senate President Enrique Gonzalez Quintana
confirmed senator-elect Nicanor Duarte Frutos as senator
August 26 without quorum or Senate vote -- provoking outrage
in the Senate. After determining that he lacked a quorum or
votes to confirm Duarte, Gonzalez unilaterally swore in
Duarte in the presence of senators from his National Union of
Ethical Citizens (UNACE) Party and the Colorado Party.
Gonzalez then ordered the Senate chamber doors locked in
order to prevent Duarte's opponents from convening an
emergency session to overturn Gonzalez's decision. Gonzalez'
decision to swear in Duarte provoked strong reaction from
members of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Beloved
Fatherland Party, and the dissident Colorado Vanguard
Movement, which boycotted Senate sessions since July to block
Duarte from taking his Senate seat (refs A and B).



3. (SBU) Hours later on August 26, Liberal Senate Vice
President Oscar Denis Sanchez convened an emergency Senate
session in the Chamber of Deputies, and the quorum of
senators voted to give Duarte's seat to substitute senator
Colorado Jorge Cespedes and nullify Gonzalez' unilateral
action. Although the Senate did not address Gonzalez'
conduct during its emergency session, it will likely debate
whether to remove Gonzalez from the presidency during its
regular session August 28.



4. (C) Gonzalez' decision to let Duarte take his Senate seat
lends credence to claims that Duarte and UNACE leader Lino
Oviedo struck a deal that released Oviedo from jail last fall
in exchange for Oviedo's and UNACE's support for Duarte's
plan to take office as senator (refs C-F). Gonzalez
justified his action by arguing that he acted in accordance
with the decision of the Colorado-led National Elections
Tribunal (TSJE) to permit Duarte to serve in the Senate.
Following his swearing-in, Duarte defended Gonzalez and told
about 300 supporters outside Congress, "I am a senator-elect,
I am a senator ratified by the court. Constitutional balance
has been restored." President Lugo, who initially favored
allowing Duarte to take his Senate seat, vowed August 26 not
to interfere in the Senate's internal affairs. However, late
August 27, Lugo expressed frustration with Congress, and said
he would consider calling a referendum on Congress if the
legislative branch is unable to resolve its current conflict
within the next few months.



5. (C) COMMENT: The Senate's deadlock over Duarte's future
underscores that the Paraguay's Congress is more interested
in personal politics than substantive political reform. It
also reveals little Liberal Party loyalty to Lugo. UNACE, in
keeping its end of a deal with President Duarte, appears to
have overreached politically, and may have jeopardized its
status as "kingmaker" in Congress. Most importantly, Lugo's
posturing about the possibility of calling a referendum on
Congress could be the first negative sign of his presidency.
END COMMENT.

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