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Fire in Paraguay Elections Office Destroys Thousands of Vote Machines

AFP

Last Updated: September 30, 2022, 11:10 IST

Asuncion, Paraguay

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the headquarters of Paraguay's Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE), in Asuncion, Paraguay (Reuters Photo)

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the headquarters of Paraguay's Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE), in Asuncion, Paraguay (Reuters Photo)

"So far we have lost 8,500 electoral machines, notebooks, electoral material, but we guarantee citizens that the December elections will take place as planned," Jamie Bestard, the judicial body's president said.

A fire broke out Thursday at Paraguay’s Superior Court of Elections, destroying thousands of electronic ballot boxes and other equipment only two months ahead of the South American country’s presidential primaries, officials said.

“So far we have lost 8,500 electoral machines, notebooks, electoral material, but we guarantee citizens that the December elections will take place as planned," Jamie Bestard, the judicial body’s president, said from outside the burned building in Asuncion.

Two court officials, who are missing, are being sought by authorities, national police chief Gilberto Fleitas said.

More than 300 firefighters were deployed to the scene to fight the flames, which were brought under control after six hours.

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Guillermo Ferreiro, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, alleged the fire was an intentional act.

“I have no doubt it’s sabotage," he said.

The court’s spokesman, Luis Alberto Mauro, did not reject the idea, but said there is not yet evidence of arson.

“We need a little more time to investigate the origin of the fire," he said.

Paraguay’s primary elections are scheduled for December 18, with the general presidential election on April 30, 2023.

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first published:September 30, 2022, 11:10 IST
last updated:September 30, 2022, 11:10 IST