Paraguay calls April 2013 poll to replace ousted Lugo

Fernando Lugo at a surprise early morning appearance at a TV channel in Asuncion, 24 June Fernando Lugo has condemned his removal as a coup

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Paraguay's electoral court has officially called a presidential poll for 21 April next year to elect a successor to Fernando Lugo, who was controversially impeached in June.

Mr Lugo was voted out of office by Congress over his handling of a land dispute in which 17 people died.

His removal was widely criticised by other regional leaders.

Federico Franco, sworn in as Mr Lugo's replacement, has promised to step down when the new president takes office.

At a ceremony on Tuesday, the electoral court announced that the election would take place on 21 April 2013.

"It has been rumoured that this government would not organise elections, or that it intended to delay them to stay in power for a longer time," Mr Franco said during the event.

Mr Franco, who as Mr Lugo's vice president assumed the post, said he would step down on 15 August when the newly elected leader was sworn in.

Mr Lugo has denounced his removal from the presidency as a "parliamentary coup".

The impeachment brought international criticism and Paraguay was suspended from the South American trading bloc, Mercosur, until elections are held.

Regional leaders argued that Mr Lugo was not given sufficient time to mount a proper defence.

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