April 21, 2008 / 9:43 AM / 11 years ago

PROFILES: Paraguay's presidential candidates

(Reuters) - Paraguayans vote for a new president on Sunday with three main candidates competing. The person who captures the most votes will win, with no minimum threshold set. Here are short portraits of the top candidates.

FERNANDO LUGO

A former Roman Catholic bishop in one of Paraguay’s poorest districts, Lugo left the priesthood to run for office, vowing to tackle inequality and widespread corruption.

He is leading polls at the head of a center-left coalition called the Patriotic Alliance for Change, which seeks to end the long rule of the Colorado Party.

A gray-bearded 56-year-old, Lugo has campaigned heavily on trying to charge Brazil more money for the power it imports from the gigantic, jointly owned Itaipu hydroelectric plant.

He has also promised agrarian reform to better distribute farmland and cattle ranches that are heavily concentrated in the hands of a small but wealthy elite.

Lugo has distanced himself from South America’s more radical leftist leaders, such as Venezuelan Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, calling himself a centrist. The political left has made few inroads in Paraguay.

BLANCA OVELAR

The first woman to run for president of Paraguay, Ovelar is a former schoolteacher who served as education minister under her political mentor, President Nicanor Duarte Frutos.

She represents the ruling Colorado Party, which backed the 35-year dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner and has held power for 61 years. Ovelar has said her family was persecuted during Stroessner’s rule.

Accusations of fraud tainted her party’s primary election, and she has struggled to rally it around her in a macho country with a history of strongmen leaders. But most polls show support for her has grown in recent months, putting her in second place behind Lugo.

A 50-year-old former basketball star, Ovelar has stressed her experience in education and says she will create an anti-corruption office that reports directly to the president.

LINO OVIEDO

A retired army general, Oviedo launched his candidacy last year after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction for plotting a coup in the mid-1990s. He had served a little over half of his 10-year prison sentence.

Oviedo, 64, is a former Colorado Party member who created his own, right-leaning party called UNACE. He says he has left military might behind and is committed to democracy.

Known for his horsemanship, Oviedo has campaigned on a seven-point infrastructure plan to create jobs and spur economic development, but critics call it unrealistic. He favors private enterprise over “inefficient” state endeavors.

Oviedo has vowed to electronically track government officials to ensure they are working when they should be, in a country where public servants are widely discredited.

Reporting by Daniela Desantis, Mariel Cristaldo and Hilary Burke; Editing by Kieran Murray

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