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Paraguay faces new protests in re-election row

© AFP/File | Thousands of demonstrators rally in front of the Congress in Asuncion on April 3, 2017 to protest against a bid to lift a ban on President Horacio Cartes that would allow him to be reelected

ASUNCION (AFP) - 

Paraguay will face the threat of fresh unrest Monday as rival demonstrators march for and against President Horacio Cartes's controversial bid to allow himself re-election, which triggered deadly riots last week.

A political crisis has erupted in the South American country over plans to amend the constitution to allow re-election -- a taboo since the 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner ended in 1989.

The 1992 constitution underpinning Paraguay's young democracy limits presidents to a single five-year term.

However, Cartes, a conservative, wants to run for a second term next year. The plan has the backing of his leftist rival Fernando Lugo, who was president from 2008 to 2012 and also wants to run again.

But the reform is bitterly opposed by the main opposition Liberal Party.

Opposition activists stormed Congress Friday as lawmakers prepared to push the bill through the lower house, ransacking lawmakers' offices and starting fires.

Police shot dead one opposition activist in a raid during the riots.

That triggered calls for crisis talks, backed by Pope Francis.

But the negotiations broke down when the Liberal Party boycotted them.

Cartes's backers in Congress responded on Thursday by boycotting a Senate session, preventing it from reaching a quorum and grinding the chamber to a halt.

They called for demonstrations on Monday -- the same day the opposition plans protests of its own.

The rival demos will come a day before Congress holds an extraordinary session to decide the fate of the re-election reform.

© 2017 AFP