The Americas

Paraguay congress axes measure for presidential re-election

  • People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

  • People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

  • People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    People celebrate after lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed former presidents to run again for office, outside Congress in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

Paraguay's Chamber of Deputies has rejected a proposed constitutional amendment allowing for presidential re-election, voting nearly four weeks after a secret Senate ballot to approve the measure set off riots in which protesters burned furniture in Congress.

A governing party official says the lower house of Congress voted 78 against the amendment, with one abstention Wednesday.

Allowing re-election of presidents is divisive in Paraguay, where memories remain strong of a 35-year military dictatorship that ended only in 1989. A large crowd celebrated outside congress after Wednesday's vote.

The initiative was initially seen as aimed at helping President Horacio Cartes stay in power. But Cartes announced nearly two weeks ago that he would not be a candidate in the 2018 election even if congress approved the amendment.