Challenged candidate will run in Paraguay

January 22, 2008|By Patrick J. McDonnell | Patrick J. McDonnell,Los Angeles Times

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Paraguay's long-dominant ruling party confirmed yesterday that a former Cabinet minister would be its candidate in the coming presidential election, although her nomination faces a court challenge.

If elected in the April 20 balloting, Blanca Ovelar would become the country's first female head of state and the third woman elected president in South America in recent years. Women now lead Argentina and Chile.

However, her chief rival for the nomination, former Vice President Luis Castiglione, vowed to pursue his legal challenge. Their Colorado Party has dominated Paraguayan politics for more than six decades.

If her candidacy withstands the internal test, Ovelar probably would confront a pair of popular opposition leaders who have declared their intention to challenge the Colorado Party's hegemony in the general elections.

The election in a nation long controlled by infamous former strongman Alfredo Stroessner is shaping up as among the most competitive in the country's history.

The current president, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, must step down this year because of a limit to one five-year term.

Castiglione, who finished second to Ovelar in the nomination process, has alleged there was widespread fraud in last month's primary vote.

But the Colorado Party's electoral tribunal rejected Castiglione's challenge yesterday and proclaimed Ovelar the official nominee.

Patrick J. McDonnell writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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