Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez has asked all Cabinet ministers to resign following riots at a demonstration against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The president had heard the message from the citizens, Communications Minister Juan Manuel Brunetti told journalists on Saturday. "He has asked all the members of the Cabinet to give up their positions."
Clashes occurred between protesters and police in the center of the capital, Asuncion, on Friday evening. Rioters hurled stones at the officers, who in turn used rubber bullets and tear gas.
Protests resumed on Saturday night in Asuncion and Ciudad del Este, broadcaster ABC TV Paraguay reported, with police using water cannons to disperse demonstrators hurling rocks at them.
The conservative Abdo Benitez respects peaceful protests and calls for peace, Brunetti said.
The health system in the South American country is on the verge of collapse. The government recently had to admit that there is a shortage of important drugs for treating COVID-19 patients and that almost all intensive care unit beds at public hospitals are occupied.
Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni resigned on Friday due to public pressure.
So far, some 165,000 people in Paraguay have been infected with the coronavirus. More than 3,200 patients have died in connection with COVID-19, the Health Ministry said.
Paraguay is about the size of Germany and Switzerland combined but has only about 7 million inhabitants. Especially in rural areas, health care is often poorly developed.
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