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Paraguay’s leader fires military chiefs

ASUNCION, Paraguay – President Fernando Lugo fired Paraguay’s military chiefs Wednesday, a day after denying he had worries about a coup amid calls for his impeachment.

In a statement given to journalists at the presidential palace, Lugo named new commanders for the army, air force and navy without explaining his reasons. The new chiefs will assume their posts today.

The new military commanders must be approved by the Senate.

The shuffling in the military command came only one day after Lugo, a left-leaning former Roman Catholic bishop, dismissed speculation about a possible coup as he struggles with Congress over implementing economic and social changes.

The rumors were apparently prompted by tanks seen headed from Paraguay’s Brazilian border toward the capital. It turned out the tanks were simply returning after maintenance work in Brazil.

Lugo’s firing of the military chiefs was announced only hours after U.S. Ambassador Liliane Ayalde delivered $1.4 million in equipment for a Paraguayan military anti-terror squad.


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