Civilians Assume Control Of Congress, Provincial Government
Feb. 16, 1985
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) _ Control of Congress and provincial governments was transferred to elected civilians after 11 years of military rule.
The transfer of the entire government to civilians will be completed March 1 with the inauguration of President-elect Julio Sanguinetti of the centrist Colorado Party.
Senators and representatives of two major political groups - the National Party and the Broad Front leftist coalition - boycotted the military ceremony Friday in which an army unit saluted the new Congress with a presentation of arms outside the Legislative Palace.
A crowd in front of the building hurled insults and whistled in derision when the soldiers gave the salute.
Army generals have ruled the South American country of 2.8 million people since they ousted an elected government in mid-1973. They finally yielded to continued resistance and called national and local elections last Nov. 25.
Gen. Gregorio Alvarez, the last military president, resigned Tuesday. Rafael Addiego Bruno, chief justice of the Supreme Court, is interim president until Sanguinetti's inauguration.
Thousands of people crowded the streets outside the Legislative Palace in the rain and cheered as members of the Senate and the House of Representatives were installed.
As a sign of continuity with the last democratic government, Senate leader Jorge Batlle invited former Vice President Jorge Sapelli to tour the legislative chambers. As vice president, Sapelli had been head of the joint legislature when Congress was dissolved June 27, 1973, by the military.
Both chambers paid tribute to former Sen. Zelmar Michellini and former Deputy Gutierrez Ruiz, abducted and killed in May 1976 in Buenos Aires, allegedly by Argentine security forces. The widows of both men were invited to the ceremony.
Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship from March 1976 until December 1983. The military regimes of both countries collaborated in the capture and, in some cases, torture and killing of civilians during campaigns to wipe out leftist subversion.
In the new House of Representatives, 41 members belong to Sanguinetti's Colorado Party, 35 to the National Party, 21 to the Broad Front and two to the conservative Civic Union. In the Senate, 14 seats are held by the Colorado Party, 11 by the National Party and six by the Broad Front.