June 23 - Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela say they will not recognize the new Paraguayan leader, as Colombia joins the chorus of concern over Fernando Lugo's impeachment. Sunita Rappai reports.
On Friday morning, Fernando Lugo was president of Paraguay. By the evening, he'd been impeached, removed from office and replaced - by this man, his rival Federico Franco. Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, was found guilty by the senate of mishandling armed clashes last week when 17 police and famers were killed. But the lightning-quick impeachment has been condemned by Paraguay's neighbours who are likening it to a coup. In Buenos Aires, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez refused to accept Franco, calling the move an attack on institutions that took the region backwards. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, ARGENTINE PRESIDENT, SAYING: "This is a definitive, direct attack on the institutions and they truly do them damage and repeat situations that we thought we in South America, in the region in general, had absolutely surpassed." Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa echoed her comments, saying the move damaged the region's democracies and should not be covered up. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez said his government would not recognize Paraguay's 'illegal, null and void new government'. And in Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos said he regretted Lugo's removal and called for impeachment procedures not to be abused. Paraguay, whose presidents are limited to one term, had been due to hold new elections in 2013. Sunita Rappai, Reuters