Venezuelan coalition opposing Maduro rejects upcoming vote

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CARACAS, VENEZUELA – A coalition of political parties in Venezuela led by Juan Guaido, backed by the United States, said on Sunday it would not participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections called by officials loyal to President Nicolas Maduro. A group of 27 opposition parties rejected the December 6 election as a “fraud”.

The vote would determine control of the National Assembly led by Guaido and the only branch of the Venezuelan government that Maduro does not control.

“We will fight together to choose the fate of our country,” Guaido tweeted on Sunday. “Now we must mobilize our majority who want to live in dignity. Together we will beat the diet! ”

The coalition called on Venezuelans to unite behind a new push against what they call Maduro’s “dictatorship”. He also called for international aid in the campaign against Maduro.

Maduro did not immediately respond to the opposition’s decision on Sunday, but he said it was important for his allies to regain control of the National Assembly. He accused the opposition leaders who control Congress of being manipulated by the United States.

Venezuela is in a political and economic crisis in which around 5 million people have fled the country in recent years. The once-wealthy oil nation lacks basic commodities, including a reliable supply of gasoline and a decent health care system, which is particularly fragile as the coronavirus rises.

The opposition coalition rejected the December elections, citing unfair conditions orchestrated by Maduro. They said 30 opposition lawmakers have been deprived of statutory immunity, while dozens more have been driven into exile and five are currently in prison.

The Supreme Court – loyal to Maduro – recently appointed a new electoral commission, comprising three members who were sanctioned by the United States and Canada, without participation in the opposition-led congress, as the law requires. The court also took over three major opposition parties, appointing new leaders whom the opposition accuses of conspiring to support Maduro.

Opposition leaders say they will only participate in an election if there is a sufficiently seated electoral commission and qualified domestic and international observers overseeing all aspects of the voting process.

Guaido launched a campaign to oust Maduro early last year, but the socialist president still has control over the military and other big institutions. Maduro also enjoys international support from Russia, China, Iran and Cuba.

It is not yet clear how Guaido, after the elections, would retain his legitimacy as the interim president of Venezuela, a post he claimed under the Constitution in early 2019 from his post as head of the National Assembly.

President Donald Trump was among the first of more than 50 countries to support Guaido. His administration has hit Maduro with stiff penalties designed to isolate him, while Trump’s confidence in Guaido appears to be waning.

However, Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special representative for Venezuela, recently said that the United States continues to support Guaido and that the administration will put more pressure on Maduro.

Opposition leaders denied in their statement abstaining in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“We are not abstaining,” the statement read. “There is no abstaining when they call something that does not constitute an election. “

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