Both the Organization of American States and Paraguay officials have affirmed the legitimacy of Sunday’s vote.
An international body charged with overseeing democracy and human rights in America has confirmed there is “no reason to question the results” of Sunday’s presidential election in Paraguay, where protests have erupted in support of the third-place candidate .
The Organization of American States (OAS) issued a statement on Tuesday saying it observed “no serious incidents” or “interruptions in the processing of sensitive electoral information” nor found deficiencies in the handling of election materials.
Instead, it called for “all complaints and disagreements regarding the election process to be handled through institutional channels in accordance with the law and in a peaceful manner”.
The OAS statement came in the wake of protests in the capital Asunción and elsewhere after right-wing candidate Santiago Peña handily won the presidency on behalf of the long-ruling Colorado Party, garnering nearly 43 percent of the vote.
His center-left rival Efraín Alegre received 27.5 percent of the vote, followed by the right-wing populist Paraguayo Cubas with 23 percent.
However, supporters of Cuba’s took to the streets to contest the election results, citing alleged fraud.
Outside the electoral court in Asunción, protesters threw stones and police responded with rubber bullets. Other protesters defaced billboards supporting Peña or burned tires to block roads. However, most of the blockades had been lifted by Tuesday morning.
Cubas himself posted on social media, sharing a photo of prominent figures in the Colorado Party and calling them “thieves.” He then cited a section of Paraguay’s constitution calling on citizens to “oppose” so-called “usurpers”, although he did not cite evidence or make an official complaint of electoral fraud.
“We are not satisfied. The elections have been stolen from us. It’s as simple as that,” Cubas’ wife, Senator-elect Yolanda Paredes, told reporters.
Alegre, the second-place winner, also took to social media on Monday to call for a partial manual recount to verify the vote, as well as an independent international audit.
“We remain ATTENTION AND MOBILIZED,” Alegre wrote on Twitter. “The validity and legitimacy of the announcement of the results depends on the adoption of these measures to ensure that they faithfully reflect the will of the people.”
Peña will be sworn in on August 15. Peña, a 44-year-old economist, becomes Paraguay’s youngest president since before 1989, when a coup ended Alfredo Stroessner’s 34-year rule, sparking democratic reforms.
But his election continues a streak of victories for the conservative Colorado Party, which has led Paraguay for most of the past 80 years. Peña is widely seen as a protege of party leader Horacio Cartes, a businessman and former president who has faced US sanctions over corruption.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Peña stressed the need for a peaceful transfer of power. “Our priority will be for this process to be harmonious and calm,” he wrote.
On Tuesday, officials in Paraguay reiterated that Sunday’s election had been accurate.
“There is no possibility of fraud,” Carlos Ljubetic, spokesman for the electoral college, told reporters. “The results of the elections are the expression of the citizenry, whether we like it or not.”