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Ex-Paraguay Army Chief Surrenders

December 12, 1997

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) _ A former army chief who accused President Juan Carlos Wasmosy of corruption turned himself in to authorities Friday after being on the run for 44 days.

Gen. Lino Oviedo, also accused of plotting a coup in 1996, showed up Friday at an army barracks in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. He was expected to serve a 30-day arrest order there.

On arriving, Oviedo stood on the roof of a car and addressed 2,000 supporters outside the barracks, insisting that he was ``a democrat.″

About a dozen people were injured in clashes with police after Oviedo was bundled down from the car by military police and wrestled into the barracks.

Wasmosy, acting as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ordered Oviedo’s arrest in October for saying that Paraguay had become ``the most corrupt country on earth″ during his presidency.

Oviedo, who has retired from service, ignored the order and fled the capital, saying military law no longer applied to him.

But Paraguay’s Supreme Court endorsed the arrest order Thursday, prompting Wasmosy to launch a nationwide manhunt for his political rival. Oviedo was believed to have been hiding on a farm in eastern Paraguay.

Oviedo is vying to replace Wasmosy in May 1998 elections after winning the ruling Colorado Party’s primary in September. Wasmosy is barred from running for a second consecutive term.

An electoral board is investigating fraud allegations in that election and Oviedo’s candidacy has been thrown into doubt.

Oviedo also is under investigation for allegedly plotting a coup in 1996 after disobeying a presidential order to surrender command, sparking a tense 27-hour standoff.

Oviedo denies the accusations.

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