Venezuela installed a new national electoral council on Tuesday that has a majority in favor of the government of President Nicolas Maduro, creating potentially new barriers to opposition participation in upcoming votes.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) is one of the main obstacles to negotiations between Maduro’s government and the opposition for regional elections to be held before the end of the year.
Many observers say the opposition will likely boycott these elections as well.
Three of the five new members of the new CNE, elected on Tuesday by the National Assembly, also controlled by Maduro’s party, are seen as supporters of left-wing leader Hugo Chavez’s mentor.
The other two members are close to the opposition.
The assembly confirmed the members with a favorable two-thirds vote. Maduro’s government and his allies control 256 of the 277 seats in the National Assembly after their landslide victory in December 2020.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido had expressed his disapproval before the assembly vote, declaring: “The result will be the same as in 2018 and 2020: non-recognition and refusal”, referring to the presidential and legislative elections.
Guaido, then president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January 2019, after Maduro was re-elected in a 2018 vote deemed fraudulent.
More than 50 countries, including the United States, have supported Guaido’s claim.
In 2020, Maduro’s party and its allies benefited from the opposition boycott of legislative elections and regained control of the assembly, which was previously the only government body not under their control.
The election results were not recognized by the European Union, the United States or several Latin American countries.
The former assembly majority, which supports Guaido, asked the international community in a statement released Tuesday to maintain “its position on the invalidity of the electoral processes organized in Venezuela by an unconstitutionally appointed CNE.”
The Organization of American States (OAS) denounced the appointments in a statement Tuesday.
“Faced with the appointment in Venezuela of a new National Electoral Council by an illegitimate National Assembly, the OAS General Secretariat rejects and condemns these actions of the dictatorship,” said the secretariat of the regional group.
© 2021 AFP