Far-right populist presidential candidate arrested in Paraguay

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Paraguayan police on Friday arrested Paraguay Cubasa far-right populist who came third in Sunday’s presidential election, encouraged his supporters to protest his unsubstantiated claims that the vote Like fraud.

Police Commissioner Gilberto Fleitas said in a radio interview that Cubas was being held in preventive detention under an order from the Public Prosecutor’s Office accusing him of breaching the peace.

Cubas, the candidate of the National Crusade party who received 23% of the vote on Sunday, was live on Facebook when officers detained him outside his hotel in San Lorenzo, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Asuncion.

Copas got into a police car “without any difficulty,” Fleitas said, but continued to broadcast live.

Broadcasting from inside the police car, Cubas spoke to the officers and focused the camera on the handcuffs. “You can see now that I am imprisoned,” he said. “The hands of all criminals in this country like Paraguayan Cubas must be tied.”

Cubas has been telling supporters since Monday that he is heading to the capital to lead a series of protests that have led to sporadic clashes with police, largely outside the Electoral Court in Asuncion.

“We will remain in the streets until the Paraguayan Cubas are released,” said Juan Reyes, one of hundreds of Cubas supporters who took part in demonstrations outside the Electoral Court.

Police said Thursday that at least 208 people have been arrested “on charges of disturbing public order and other crimes punishable by law in the framework of the demonstrations taking place in the national territory.”

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Efrain Alegre, who finished second as a candidate from a broad-based opposition coalition during Sunday’s elections, demanded Cuba’s release, along with everyone arrested in this week’s protests.

“We demand the release of Paraguayan Cubas and all imprisoned citizens for demanding transparency,” Allegri wrote on social media.

Allegri, who received 27% of the vote on Sunday, conceded the race shortly after polls closed, but on Monday called for a manual vote-count and an international audit of the country’s electronic voting system after Cubas aired his allegations of fraud.

The Organization of American States, which deployed an election observation mission, said on Tuesday that there was “no reason to doubt the results” of the vote count.

Santiago Peña of the longtime ruling Colorado Party handily won Sunday’s presidential election with 43% of the vote.

Over the past few days, Cubas has been posting pictures of his supporters greeting him in different parts of the country as he makes his way towards the capital from Ciudad del Este, a city that borders Brazil and Argentina.

Between 1,500 and 1,800 law enforcement officers were deployed outside the Electoral Court on Friday to take part in the protest organized by Cubas supporters. The authorities also prepared for any demonstration outside the police station where Kobas was taken.

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Associated Press photo reporter Jorge Saenz in Asuncion contributed to this report.

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