Venezuela: Electoral authority rejects President Maduro′s mega-elections | News | DW | 24.02.2018
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Venezuela: Electoral authority rejects President Maduro's mega-elections

In a setback to President Nicolas Maduro, the CNE announced it would not be able to organize all the elections on one day. The OAS and the US have criticized the vote, set to take place in April.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/M. Bello)

Maduro sought to add parliamentary elections to the already scheduled presidential vote in April

The National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela has ruled out the possibility of carrying out legislative, state and municipal elections, in conjunction with the scheduled presidential elections on April 22, as President Maduro had proposed.

Read more: Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro calls for snap election amid possible opposition boycott

Tibisay Lucena, the president of the CNE, announced the decision on Friday, saying that the electoral authority would not be capable of preparing such a range of elections so soon.

"We are now not prepared to make a presidential election coincide with other elections that are technically more complex," Lucena said.

Nonetheless, the CNE president signaled that the parliamentary elections, which are slated for 2020, could take place sooner. "The CNE will evaluate the upcoming date of the parliamentary, legislative council and municipal elections," she said.

The call to join these elections with the presidential contest of April 22 was heavily criticized by the opposition. The National Assembly, Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, called Maduro's plan an "attempted coup" and labeled it a "totalitarian intent" of the government to control "all public powers through a mega electoral simulation."

Read more: Leading Venezuelan party to boycott election

Venezuela rejects election criticism

The Organization of American States (OAS) urged Venezuela to cancel the April 22 presidential election, citing a lack of transparency in the polls.

In a resolution, a majority of OAS members pressed the Venezuelan government to carry out elections through a "fair, transparent, legitimate and credible" process, in which all political parties and candidates could participate.

Samuel Moncada, Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS, rejected the resolution as soon as it was approved by the delegates. "The elections have been confirmed and we shall have presidential elections in Venezuela," he reiterated.

Moncada accused the OAS of trying to "strangle Venezuelan democracy," saying that the US had pressured members states to pass the resolution.

Read more: US says Venezuela vote 'neither free nor fair'

Opposition presidential candidates 

The CNE opened up the process for candidate subscriptions on Saturday. So far, only a handful of potential candidates, mostly political outsiders, have announced campaigns against Maduro: businessman Luis Alejandro Ratti, the evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci and businessman Leocenis Garcia.

Javier Bertucci's candidacy has garnered media attention in recent days. The pastor asserted his belief that Maduro can be defeated at the ballot box and criticized the opposition's electoral boycott for helping clear the way for Maduro to gain a second six-year term.

Bertucci claims that his fusion of politics and religious faith was needed for the country to overcome its deep economic crisis.

Venezuela's main opposition alliance, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), announced earlier this week that it would boycott the election, although one of its high profile members, Henri Falcon, has indicated his intention to run.

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