Paraguay's President Lugo provisionally cedes power to vice-president Franco

Lugo earlier this week, from Ultima Hora.

Fernando Lugo has been in a public battle with cancer for two months and the situation is looking dire. Today he formally ceded the power of the presidency to his vice-president Federico Franco. Franco is now "acting president"--a provisional and possibly temporary position. But, Lugo is being rushed from Paraguay to São Paulo for emergency diagnostics. Word is that Lugo has an infection near his heart and lungs.

If this is the end of Lugo's dramatic presidency which ended one party rule in Paraguay for the first time in six decades, expect uncertainty. Franco is a Liberal (PLRA) and at odds with many of the policies and perspectives of other members of Lugo's lefty government. The midterm elections are just around the corner, a kind of check-in on how the presidency of "change" is doing. Will the Colorado (ANR) Party (that had controlled the presidency for 60+ years) succeed in consolidating itself internally after the surprise defeat in 2008? What will a Liberal president mean for policy? What's going to happen to the negotiations over Itaipú? What of the promised agrarian reform? What of judicial reform?

Acting President Federico Franco speaks to the press today. Image via ABC Color.

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