Ousted Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has fought back against the politicians who engineered his dismissal, setting up an alternative government and pledging to upstage the country's new leaders at a forthcoming regional summit.
Mr Lugo's new stance marked a dramatic about-face from just two days earlier when it seemed he would go meekly into retirement after the country's Congress overwhelmingly voted to impeach him.
Since then, Mr Lugo has received a flood of support from South American nations, including the Mercosur trade bloc, which suspended Paraguay's membership and barred the country from taking part in a gathering set to start today in Mendoza, Argentina.
Mercosur nations expressed "their most energetic condemnation of the rupture of democratic order" in Paraguay, read a joint statement issued by the Argentine Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his government will cut off fuel sales to the poor South American country. Venezuela had become a key supplier to Paraguay as Mr Chavez built close ties with Mr Lugo, a moderate leftist.
The developments set back efforts by newly sworn-in President Federico Franco, who over the weekend mounted efforts to justify Mr Lugo's removal and fend off criticism from regional leaders calling the action an institutional coup.
On Sunday, Mr Franco said newly appointed Foreign Minister Jose Felix Fernandez would represent Paraguay at the Mendoza summit, with heads of state gathering there on Thursday. "He will take charge of seeking to solve the discrepancies with countries that are our neighbours and friends," Mr Franco said after attending Sunday Mass. There was no immediate comment from his government after Paraguay's suspension.
Mr Lugo also said he will attend the summit and even hand over Mercosur's rotating presidency to Peru next week, months before it is due to switch in November. "I will not collaborate with Franco's government because it is bogus. It has no legitimacy," Mr Lugo said. Earlier he denounced his ouster as a "parliamentary coup".
His former Cabinet ministers announced that they were establishing a parallel government to continue Mr Lugo's policies and would be meeting on matters of state. "President Lugo will be with his ministers to take decisions and then inform what those determinations were," said Augusto Dos Santos, Lugo's minister of social communication.
Last week Mr Lugo said he would respect the outcome of his impeachment proceedings. After his rapid trial and conviction in the Senate on Friday, he disappeared from sight, and an aide said he was focused on moving his things out of the presidential palace. But he came out swinging shortly after midnight on Sunday, showing up at an emotional demonstration where he told protesters his truncated presidency was targeted because he tried to help the South American nation's poor majority.