El presidente Nicolás Maduro
El presidente Nicolás Maduro muestra el acuerdo firmado entre su delegación y la oposición en México en 2021 AFP

Even though a large number of Venezuelans cast ballots in a primary election to choose a candidate, who will stand against President Nicolas Maduro in the 2024 presidential polls, they failed to learn results due to a block in the server that worked as a transmission channel.

However, early returns have given former legislator María Corina Machado a lead, following which she claimed victory Sunday night. The partially counted ballot boxes (about 26%) showed about 93% of votes were under her name, the independent National Primary Commission said. The final results are expected Monday.

The voters had reached the polling booths Sunday in larger numbers than expected. But, following the voting process, the commission faced server issues.

"Once we began the process of counting the results, we detected that our server that functioned as a transmission channel was blocked, which prevented us from completing this process as scheduled," Jesús María Casal, the head of the organizing commission, said, AP News reported.

Casal added the commission "has contingency measures and our technical staff have activated them in coordination with the parties and the candidates," noting that the initial results will be announced by them after all votes were counted.

Private homes and street corners were used as polling booths by the independent commission. These places were supposed to be closed by 4:00 p.m. but due to the technical issue, they remained open till late.

Aside from server issues, the voters also had issues with transportation to reach the polling booths as gasoline availability was limited at places like Bolivar and Tachira.

A 39-year-old housewife named Melissa Diaz said Friday she tried to arrange gasoline for Sunday's travel to the polling booth, but she couldn't get it. Diaz said she arrived at the polling booth in eastern Guyana City with an almost empty tank.

"We've lost a whole day, but even if we had to walk or cycle, we were coming to vote," she said, as per Reuters.

Apart from Machado, nine other candidates are also part of the primary elections, including former lawmakers Carlos Prosperi and Delsa Solorzano.

In June, Machado, who was among the favorites to win the opposition's presidential nomination, was banned from holding public office for 15 years. Machado, a longtime critic of Maduro's party -- the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela, has been a supporter of free-market policies.

Last week, the Venezuelan government and the opposition made a deal to ensure the presidential elections will be conducted in the second half of 2024 and will be internationally monitored. The last primary election was held in 2012.

In fact, due to this deal, Venezuela's government released five prisoners, including Roland Carreno of the opposition party Popular Will and former legislator Juan Requesens of the Justice First party, along with three others.

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