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Paraguay's new leader vows to end violence

AS FEARS of a military coup subsided, Paraguay's new President, Luis Gonzalez Macchi, pledged yesterday to attack the country's endemic poverty and bring to an end five days of violence that forced the resignation of his predecessor, Raul Cubas.

Mr Gonzalez Macchi, 51, previously speaker of the Senate, took over after the surprise resignation of Mr Cubas on Sunday night. Tens of thousands of Paraguayans immediately took to the streets to celebrate his departure, wrapping themselves in the national flag and singing the anthem; they let off fireworks and honked their horns into the early hours of yesterday.

Violence had erupted on the streets following the assassination last Tuesday of vice-president Luis Maria Argana, 66. The killing happened in broad daylight in the capital, Asuncion, and during weekend violence four anti-Cubas demonstrators were killed and 100 wounded. Most Paraguayans, including the Congress, accused Mr Cubas and his military mentor, General Lino Oviedo, of ordering the killing as part of a power struggle within the long-ruling Colorado party.

Mr Cubas denied involvement and said he had resigned in an effort to restore calm in the country amid rumours of a military coup.