One person was killed in Asunción as the headquarters of Paraguay's Superior Tribunal of Electoral Justice (TSJE) went on fire Thursday two and a half months before the primaries. Thousands of electronic ballot boxes were also engulfed by the flames-
So far we have lost 8,500 electoral machines, notebooks, and electoral materials, but we guarantee the citizenry that the December elections will be held as planned, TSJE's Jaime Bestard.
National Police Chief Gilberto Fleitas told journalists that they were looking for two officials of the court whose whereabouts are unknown.
The primaries are scheduled for December 18, and the presidential elections are to be held on April 30, 2023.
Over 20 fire trucks and 300 firefighters were deployed to fight the flames, which were brought under control after six hours.
I have no doubt, this is sabotage, opposition leader Guillermo Ferreiro told reporters. The option was not ruled out by TSJE spokesman Luis Alberto Mauro. We have no elements of judgment to know if it was provoked. We need a little more time to investigate the origin of the fire, Mauro said.
TSJE minister Jorge Bogarín announced the formation of a crisis committee to investigate the incident.
In the primaries, the ruling Colorado Party must choose between Arnoldo Wiens a former Minister of Works under the incumbent President Mario Abdo Benítez, and Santiago Peña, the running mate of former President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018).
Firefighter Captain Eduardo Méndez said the top priority was to search for one of the missing court officials, identified as Aníbal Ortiz, whose death was later confirmed inside the damaged building. A second official whose whereabouts were unknown was found safe and sound. Regarding the causes of the fire, expert assessment will be needed, he added.