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Fire will not destroy Venezuelan electoral system: official

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Caracas (AFP)

Venezuela's electoral system was damaged but not destroyed after a fire broke out in a warehouse used to store voting equipment, the National Electoral Council said Sunday.

A 6,000-square-meter (65,000 square feet) warehouse in Caracas caught fire on Saturday. In just half an hour, the fire devoured thousands of pieces of electric equipment.

These included 44,408 voting machines, 582 civil registry computers and more than 49,000 biometric identification devices used in the elections, according to the electoral council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena.

"The Venezuelan electoral system is far from being destroyed," Lucena said, adding the electoral procedure is a multi-step process, only two of which have been damaged.

"This act, which we are waiting to hear if it was criminal, affected only two of the processes: the inventory process and the machine production process," she told reporters.

Lucena declined to answer further questions.

The CNE, which has been the target of opposition criticism in every election, will be reappointed in the coming weeks and will have to organize legislative elections, which are scheduled for later this year.

"Nothing is being ruled out," Lucena said. She noted that three years ago, the CNE and its officials were targeted during the National Constituent Assembly election campaign.

"In 2017, those who did not want elections were vicious against the voting machines, thinking they could stop a process like the Constituent Assembly," she said.

"They attacked operators, they burned vehicles, they made death threats, they burned voting machines, but the election took place."

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