The general who overthrew longtime dictator Alfredo Stroessner denied allegations linking him to the illegal drug trade and said he would consider it an honor to be chosen his party's presidential candidate in promised elections.
Maj. Gen. Andres Rodriguez, who ousted Stroessner in a bloody two-day coup that ended Friday, said Monday he "never" had any drug connections and pledged to work with the United States to crack down on narcotics smugglers.Rodriguez also said it would be a "great honor" if he were chosen by his party as a presidential candidate in "sovereign and free" elections he has promised within 90 days.
Stroessner, 76, who ruled the country for nearly 35 years, resigned Friday as president and flew Sunday to exile in Brazil, where he was granted temporary asylum.
Rodriguez, a former confidant and aide to Stroessner, held his first news conference since being sworn in Friday as president and denied allegations linking him to the illegal drug trade.
He has been accused by academics in the United States of past involvement in the Paraguayan drug traffic, but Western diplomats said they had no evidence that would stand up in court.
"I have never been connected in any way with drug running and drug runners," Rodriguez told reporters. "I swear as a family man that I detest this thing."
Rodriguez, 64, said existing collaboration between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Paraguayan officials will continue.
He also elaborated on his pledge, announced Sunday, to call free elections in the wake of Stroessner's resignation. The constitution says elections must be held within 90 days after a president resigns.
"In two to three days I will sign a decree calling for elections for the president, senate and house," Rodriguez said. "These elections will take place within 90 days."