Sat Apr 1, 2017 1:56AM
Paraguayan protesters set fire to the Congress building in the capital Asuncion on March 31, 2017. (Via Twitter)
Paraguayan protesters set fire to the Congress building in the capital Asuncion on March 31, 2017. (Via Twitter)

Angry protesters in Paraguay have set fire to the National Congress building amid violent rallies over the senators’ closed-door vote to approve a bill that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election.

Infuriated demonstrators in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion stormed the Congress building on Friday night and set it ablaze after it was revealed that the contested measure was approved by 25 lawmakers, two more than the 23 required for it to be passed in the 45-member upper chamber.

The demonstrations erupted earlier in the day, with hundreds of protesters clashing with riot police, prompting them to use rubber bullets and water hoses in a bid to disperse the furious crowd.

According to the fire service, some 30 protesters and police officers sustained injuries in the unrest.

Police crack down on a protest against the approval of a constitutional amendment for presidential re-election, outside the Congress building in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion on March 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Dozens of protesters battered down the Congress’ entrances and fences, shattered windows and ransacked the offices of lawmakers before setting fire to the building. Opponents say the new measure will clear the way for dictatorships.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes

Right-wing President Cartes, who took office in mid-August 2013, is striving to reform the constitution in order to allow him to run for office again in an election in 2018. Since 1992, the South American country has banned re-election to prevent dictatorship.

On Saturday, the lower house Chamber of Deputies, where Cartes has a majority, will vote on the bill. If the measure secures a favorable vote, the electoral court will then have to call for a referendum on the reform within three months.