ASUNCION, Paraguay — President Fernando Lugo’s rapid impeachment and ouster by lawmakers has plunged Paraguay into crisis and unleashed a wave of criticism by fellow leftist leaders in Latin America.
The former Roman Catholic bishop elected on a pledge to help Paraguay’s poor said he would step aside after Friday’s Senate vote to remove him from office, even though he called it a blow to democracy.
Federico Franco, the newly sworn in president, vowed Saturday to honor foreign commitments and reach out to Latin American leaders to try to keep his country from becoming a regional pariah.
Franco has begun forming his Cabinet. His first two appointments were an interior minister in charge of maintaining domestic security, and a foreign minister who will go on the road in an effort to appease fellow members of the Mercosur regional bloc.
Lugo’s quick acceptance of his ouster appeared to have prevented a bigger confrontation and potentially violent protests in the streets of Paraguay’s capital of Asuncion, where his supporters had gathered. But other South American presidents were critical of the impeachment trial, which several called a de facto coup d’etat.
‘‘This goes beyond Fernando Lugo. It goes beyond Paraguay. It’s about true democracy for all of our America,’’ said Ecuador’s leftist president, Rafael Correa, adding that his government will not recognize any government in Paraguay other than Lugo’s.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said that he will not recognize the ‘‘illegal and illegitimate government’’ that replaced Lugo. Chavez said that his ally ‘‘preferred the sacrifice’’ of stepping aside and that the trial had been a setup.
In Argentina, the government of President Cristina Fernandez said it ‘‘is not going to validate the coup d’etat that just occurred’’ in Paraguay. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, also called it a coup.
In Chile, foreign minister Alfredo Moreno said ‘‘we are worried’’ that Lugo’s ouster ‘‘did not fulfill the minimum standards of due process and the legitimate defense that any person deserves.’’
Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a communique that although the process followed procedures laid out in Paraguay’s constitution, ‘‘Mexico considers that said proceeding didn’t grant former President Lugo the space or time for his defense.’’
Amid the criticism, Franco directed his foreign minister to reach out to the region’s governments.
Franco, of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, will serve out the rest of Lugo’s term, which ends in August 2013. The Franco, 49, has experience as a former state governor and was part of a political alliance that supported Lugo.
The Senate tried Lugo on five charges of malfeasance in office, including an alleged role in a deadly confrontation between police and landless farmers that left 17 dead.
After the five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to dismiss Lugo, while four senators voted against and two were absent.
It was a dramatic demise for the once-popular leader who previously had stepped down as a popular Roman Catholic ‘‘bishop of the poor.’’