ASUNCION – The president-elect of Paraguay, conservative former senator Mario Abdo Benitez, said on Thursday that he respected the allegations of electoral fraud made by his main opponent, Efrain Alegre, while insisting on the “credibility” of the country’s electoral system.
“They have a right to make that allegation and I respect what the opposition decides to do ... Hopefully they will act responsibly and with seriousness,” Abdo Benitez, of the governing Colorado Party, told journalists.
On Tuesday, Alegre claimed that his Ganar opposition coalition had discovered “clear evidence” of an electoral fraud, showing as an example a polling station tally sheet with 65 votes for him that had disappeared in the official preliminary count.
The next day, Alegre said that his coalition, which includes the leftist Guasu Front and several minor parties, had “an immense number of complaints” regarding the electoral process.
Abdo Benitez said Thursday that if the opposition considers that “some issues need to be audited or reviewed, they have the right to demand it.”
The president-elect, however, said that the opposition’s complaints should be made responsibly to avoid “attacking” the “great credibility” of Paraguay’s electoral system and its TSJE electoral court.
The TSJE is carrying out the tally sheet count from each of the 21,211 polling places where people cast ballots last Sunday, when preliminary results showed Abdo Benitez beating Alegre by 3.7 percentage points, a much narrower margin than what was projected in the polls.