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.
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.