A Catholic bishop whom the Vatican suspended from office after his entry into politics has been elected president of Paraguay, the Baltimore Sun reports.
With 83 percent of polling stations reporting, ex-bishop Fernando Lugo received 40.7 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast, ending the 61-year continuous rule of the country’s Colorado Party. Former Education Minister Blanca Ovelar, the Colorado Party’s candidate, received 30.8 percent, while former general and ex-Colorado member Lino Oviedo won 22 percent.
"Today, we can affirm that the little people are able to win," Lugo said to hundreds of his supporters. "Equally, I want to tell you this is the Paraguay of our dreams, the Paraguay of many colors, the Paraguay of all faces, the Paraguay of everybody."
The 56-year-old Lugo has pledged to more equitably distribute land and other resources to poor Paraguayans. He is known as “the bishop of the poor.” He has said he will not ally with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The Congregation for Bishops suspended Lugo from episcopal office on February 1, 2007 after he decided to run for the Paraguayan presidency. Lugo’s request for laicization was also denied. Lugo had been bishop emeritus of San Pedro.
He is scheduled to take office on August 15.