efe-epaCaracas

Venezuelan authorities deployed Monday 143,000 police officers to guarantee security for the regional elections to be held next Sunday and asked citizens to go to the polls with complete confidence.

"We have held a series of work and coordination meetings to make sure that next Sunday, Oct. 15, will be a successful operation and a great voting fest will be celebrated. We are deploying 143,000 men and women from all our police forces," Interior Minister Nestor Riverol said.

He said the security operation known as the Plan Republica will protect the more than 13,000 polling stations around the country and that "85 centers" have been set up for processing electoral crimes.

Taking part in the work meetings were the new Attorney General Tarek Saab; National Electoral Council (CNE) chief Tibisay Lucena; the head of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces Strategic Operational Command, Adm. Remigio Ceballos; and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

"This will be a regional process with its own peculiar characteristics. We have spoken sufficiently with" the Interior and Justice Ministry, and have organized "effective patrols day and night, before, during and after the elections to guarantee that they go off peacefully," Padrino Lopez said.

In addition, the defense minister said he was sure that next Monday after the polling, "Venezuela will awake in harmony...in happiness and in democracy," and asked the Venezuelan people to go to the polls and "vote with confidence."

For her part, the CNE chief said the Oct. 15 elections will be "transparent" and "trustworthy."

Distribution of alcoholic beverages will be banned over the electoral weekend, as will public demonstrations, machinery working on pubic streets, maintenance by telephone companies and the bearing of firearms.

Next Sunday the Venezuelan opposition and Chavismo will test each other in elections for 23 state governments around the country, 20 of which are currently held by the ruling party and three by the opposition.

Eligible to vote in these elections are 18,099,391 citizens, while noteworthy among the candidates of Chavismo and the opposition are members of the military and members of the legislature, respectively.