(Asuncion) The electoral justice of Paraguay excluded Tuesday any fraud in the presidential election of Sunday, and the president-elect Santiago Peña called for calm after demonstrations by supporters of the candidate who arrived 3rd, who denounced alleged irregularities.
Around 70 people were arrested overnight in various parts of the country for disturbing public order or refusing to comply, according to the police, who did not report any injuries.
Roads were cut intermittently, but traffic was everywhere restored by Tuesday morning.
In the capital Asuncion, a few hundred supporters of the “anti-system” candidate Paraguayo Cubas demonstrated Monday evening, causing clashes with the police near the Electoral Tribunal which began validating results on Tuesday, after receiving the country’s electronic ballot boxes.
The 44-year-old economist Santiago Peña, candidate of the Colorado Party (conservative) in power for seven decades in Paraguay, won the presidential election by a wide margin, with 42% of the vote, against 27% for his main centre-left rival Efrain Alegre.
He will succeed in August, and for five years, the current head of state, Mario Abdo Benitez.
Paraguayo Cubas, with a virulent anti-parliamentary and anti-civil servant discourse, created a surprise by coming third, with 22% of the vote.
Mr. Cubas, and his party Cruzada Nacional, stigmatized “the ‘mafia’, the ‘drug traffickers’ who won while Paraguay lost”, and denounced irregularities or inconsistencies in the count. While encouraging the demonstrators.
“There is no possibility of fraud, the results are the expression of the citizens, whether they like it or not,” Electoral Court spokesman Carlos Ljubetic told reporters.
The electoral authority filed a complaint against the demonstrators “who aimed to prevent the access of the trucks transporting the ballot boxes”.
The Observer Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for its part affirmed, in its preliminary report on Tuesday, that “there is no reason to doubt the results presented by the Electoral Authority”.
The results reported by the electoral authorities “coincide with the information collected by our observers”, said the head of the mission, Luis Lauredo.
President-elect Santiago Peña also said at a press conference on Tuesday that the incidents were “predictable”, coming from the Paraguayo Cubas camp.
“It’s a political sector that advocates anarchy, instability […] It’s part of a strategy to capitalize on the anger, the frustration, the lack of opportunity of a lot of people.”