Venezuelan opposition leader, EU urge delay in election
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A popular opposition politician in Venezuela urged authorities on Wednesday to delay upcoming congressional elections, saying it’s the only way to create free and fair conditions for the vote.
The call by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles came hours after the European Union made a similar plea, reiterating that it won’t send observers to Venezuela without postponing the vote and seeing a vast improvement in electoral conditions.
“If it’s postponed, does that automatically mean there will be the right conditions?” Capriles said in an online broadcast. “No, but it allows for the possibility of an observation mission.”
At stake in the vote now set for Dec. 6 is control of the National Assembly. The legislative body is controlled by an opposition coalition led by U.S.-backed politician Juan Guaidó. A loss of the chamber could erase the opposition’s last hold power, putting all branches of government under President Nicolás Maduro’s control.
A month earlier, Capriles, 48, said he’d back candidates in the election, breaking with Guaidó, who maintains Maduro has already rigged the election. Guadó also claims presidential powers as head of the National Assembly in a campaign to oust Maduro.
For his part, Maduro sees the election as an opportunity to rid Venezuela of opponents, who he said are dead-set on stirring violence and handing over Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to what he calls the imperialist United States.
“Come rain, thunder or lightning, on December 6 will will hold the parliamentary elections,” Maduro said in a recent TV address.
The EU recently sent two representatives to Caracas to discuss the possibility of delaying the vote. In a statement released early Wednesday, the coalition of 27 European nations said it won’t send observers to Venezuela unless the election is both postponed and better conditions are guaranteed.
“Beyond the immediate issue of legislative elections, the long-term objective remains the path to democracy,” the EU statement said. “It is the time for bold Venezuelan-owned decisions in support of a peaceful and democratic transition.”