Paraguayan opponent Paraguayo Cubas, who came third in Sunday's presidential election, and whose supporters have demonstrated in recent days denouncing fraud, was arrested on Friday for "disturbing public order" and placed in preventive detention.
Mr. Cubas was arrested without resistance when he left a hotel in San Lorenzo, in the large suburbs of the capital Asuncion. He was remanded in custody, Paraguayan police chief Gilberto Fleitas told reporters.
Paraguayo Cubas, 61, a former parliamentarian and self-proclaimed "anti-system" candidate with a virulent anti-parliamentary and anti-civil servant discourse, created a surprise by coming third in the presidential election with 22.9% of the vote.
Santiago Peña, a 44-year-old economist from the Colorado Party (conservative) in power for seven decades in Paraguay, was largely elected president, with 42.7% of the vote, compared to 27.4% for his main center-left rival Efrain Allegre.
Mr. Cubas, and his party Cruzada Nacional, stigmatized after the election "the mafia, the drug traffickers who won while Paraguay lost", and denounced irregularities or inconsistencies. Others in his camp, such as his wife Senator Yolanda Paredes, denounced "sabotage".
The day after the election, Monday evening and overnight, supporters of Mr. Cubas had demonstrated and erected roadblocks in various parts of the country. More than a hundred people were arrested over the week for disturbing public order or refusing to comply. In Asuncion, brief clashes had taken place with the police on Monday evening.
Mr. Cubas has since encouraged protesters to continue.
Friday afternoon, he was apprehended without any incident, and even published on his Facebook account his journey in the police car, where he chatted quietly with the police.
"They take me arrested and handcuffed like a delinquent, while the real ones are free and continue to dominate the country", he posted a little later.
Police Commissioner Carlos Benitez assured ABC-TV that Mr. Cubas was "very calm, very cooperative", causing no "inconvenience".
He also spoke of a gathering of "about 300 supporters" of the politician towards the police division where Mr. Cubas was detained, to which a large police cordon blocked all access.
Following accusations of irregularities by the Cubas camp, the Electoral Court, which this week was in the process of validating the results of the electronic ballot boxes, assured that "there is no possibility of fraud, the results are the citizens' expression, whether they like it or not".
The observer mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for its part affirmed that "there is no reason to doubt the results presented by the Electoral Authority", and that the results communicated "coincide with the information collected by our observers".
The European Union observation mission also considered that the elections were "well organized, transparent and professional", deputy head of mission, Tania Marques, told AFP. Even if there were "complaints and denunciations", and that the mission "continues to observe the process".
Deputy in the 90s, then senator in 2018, Mr. Cubas had been expelled from the Senate the following year for bad behavior, in particular insulting an elected official and beatings at the police. The Senate had voted to withdraw his nomination.
06/05/2023 04:02:09 - Asuncion (AFP) - © 2023 AFP