An official mission from the Organization of American States meets with Paraguay’s election officials as part of the international organization’s electoral observation project in the South American nation. Leading the delegation is Nobel Prize winner and former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sánchez. According to Paraguay's official news agency, he and other members of the delegation will meet with Paraguay’s national electoral tribunal, as well as representatives of the various political parties.
Accompanying Arias Sanchez on December 5 are various OAS officials, including Ambassador and political advisor Kevin Casas-Zamora, Ambassador John Biehl Del Río, Ambassador and OAS representative in Paraguay Diego Paz Bustamante. A native of Chile, Biehl Del Rio is a veteran diplomat who led the OAS electoral observation delegation to Nicaragua’s election in 1986.
Paraguay anticipates having its general elections on April 21, 2013, when approximately 3.5 million people will go to the polls. The country current interim President Federico Franco came into power earlier this year following the impeachment of former President Fernando Lugo. The move was criticized by various South American countries as undemocratic, thus complicating relations with Paraguay and in the MERCOSUR and UNASUR regional groupings. The OAS, however, following a study declared that Lugo’s removal was legal and had followed constitutional procedures by the Paraguayan national legislature.
President Franco is not currently in Paraguay, since he is in the U.S. to discuss oil exploration in the Chaco region. He is not currently running to succeed to a full term as president.