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Does Paraguay risk pariah status with president's ouster?

Ousted president Fernando Lugo denounced his removal as a 'parliamentary coup,' and hinted that domestic and international pressure could reverse his impeachment.

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Paraguay's new President Federico Franco gives a thumbs up as he arrives to give a news conference at the presidential palace in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday. Paraguay's newly sworn in president is promising to honor foreign commitments and reach out to Latin American leaders after the Senate removed President Fernando Lugo from office in a rapid impeachment trial on Friday.

Jorge Saenz/AP

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Fernando Lugo emerged early Sunday to denounce his ouster as Paraguay's president as a "parliamentary coup" and a "foreordained sentence" that was not based on proper evidence.

Lugo said his truncated presidency was targeted because he tried to help the South American nation's poor majority. Asked whether he had any hope of retaking office, Lugo exhorted his followers to remain peaceful but suggested that popular national and international clamor could lead Paraguayan lawmakers to reverse his impeachment.

"In politics, anything is possible," Lugo said.

He added that he was visited by Roman Catholic bishops before Friday's Senate trial for alleged poor performance of duties, and agreed to accept the outcome of a process he considered illegitimate only to avoid bloodshed.

Lugo spoke in a pre-dawn special televised "open microphone" program hosted by a state-funded public television channel that was created by his government. As Saturday turned into Sunday, a long line of speakers queued up in front of the station's headquarters to vent their frustration over what they called an institutional coup, calling for strikes and protests to demand his return.

"We will not recognize any other president," chanted the crowd of at least 200 people, waving Paraguayan flags and bundled up against the Southern Hemisphere winter.

The nighttime protest broke the quiet of an otherwise sleepy day when many shops were closed and streets were largely empty. Some alleged that the public station was being censored by the nascent government of Federico Franco, who took the oath of office the previous day.

Earlier Saturday, Mr. Franco set about forming his new government as he promised to honor foreign commitments, respect private property, and reach out to Latin American leaders to minimize diplomatic fallout and keep his country from becoming a regional pariah.

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