Protesters Set Congress Building in Paraguay on Fire, Post Selfies

Demonstrators in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion stormed the National Congress building in a protest against senators' closed-door vote to allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election.

A protester carries a chair to a fire outside the congress building during clashes between police and protesters. Some protesters broke through police lines and entered the first floor, where they set fire to papers and furniture. (Photo: AP)

The opposition crowd that deemed the measure illegal was on Friday confronted by police wielding water hoses. They stormed the legislature, broke windows and fences.

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse them, RT News reported.

Some protesters broke through police lines and entered the first floor, where they set fire to papers and furniture. (Photo: AP)

According to photos posted on social media, demonstrators managed to storm the first floor of the Congress after breaching the poorly armed police lines.

Protesters chant slogans against presidential re-elections outside the congress building, in Asuncion. A majority in Paraguay’s Senate has approved a constitutional amendment allowing the re-election of a president to a second term. (Photo:AP)

The rioters then set fire to papers and chairs causing the flames to spread throughout the floor.

The building was eventually cordoned off by police after the entire ground floor burned down.

Two men pose for “selfies” during the protest against presidential re-elections at Congress in Asuncion. The protesters set ablaze the first floor of the Congress. (Photo: AP)

Many Wounded

Several politicians, including Senate Speaker Roberto Acevedo and journalists were among the wounded.

Local media said several people were hurt by rubber bullets. Among those were former Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, and Efrain Alegre, the presidential candidate from Authentic Radical Liberal Party.

A man kicks at a shattered window of the congress building during clashes between police and protesters. Police used water cannon and fired rubber bullets to drive demonstrators away from the building while firefighters extinguished blazes inside. (Photo:AP)

Paraguay's constitution allows presidents to serve only a single term in office to guard against a return to dictatorship after Alfredo Stroessner ruled from 1954 until 1989, the BBC reported.

But an agreement between the ruling and opposition party approved the amendment to allow Horacio Cartes of the Colorado Party to run for re-election in 2018.

People ram a barrier into the Congress building during clashes between police and protesters opposing an approved proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the election of a president to a second term, in Asuncion, Paraguay. (Photo:AP)

The reform will also allow left-wing former President Fernando Lugo, who held power from 2008 to 2012, to run for office again.

Before the amendment is cemented, it must be approved by the Chamber of Deputies, where 44 of the 80 members belong to the ruling Colorado Party.

The vote will take place early on Saturday, according to a document posted on the lower chamber's official Twitter account.

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