Venezuela presidential election postponed to May

Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena in Caracas, Venezuela February 26, 2018.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The head of the National Electoral Council said the polls would be moved to May

The snap presidential election in Venezuela scheduled for 22 April has been pushed back by a month, the National Electoral Council (CNE) has announced.

The CNE said the poll would now be held in the second half of May, but did not give an exact date.

The move came after an agreement was reached between the government and a small number of opposition parties.

President Nicolás Maduro has registered to run for a second six-year term.

‘Attempt to wrong-foot opposition’

The head of the electoral council, Tibisay Lucena, also announced that the government had agreed on “electoral guarantees” for the forthcoming elections with a number of opposition parties.

Traditionally, presidential elections are held in Venezuela in December. But in February the CNE announced they would be brought forward to 22 April.

The decision was widely interpreted by critics of the government as an attempt to steamroll the deeply divided opposition coalition and throw it into disarray.

It comes amid an ever worsening economic and political crisis which has left many Venezuelans malnourished and led hundreds of thousands to flee the country.

It also triggered international criticism, with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all rejecting the early election and some countries warning that they would not recognise the result.

The US has said it would consider imposing further sanctions against the government if it went ahead with the presidential vote under what it called fraudulent conditions.

Widespread boycott

The main opposition Democratic Unity coalition announced it would boycott the 22 April election and refused to put up any candidates to oppose President Maduro.

But one opposition politician, Henri Falcón, broke ranks and installed himself as a candidate.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former state governor Henri Falcón decided to run in the presidential election

It is not yet clear whether the one-month delay in the vote will tempt more opposition politicians to throw their hats into the ring.

The most high-profile opposition candidates, such as Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo López, are barred from running. Others have left the country for fear of arrest.

It is also not clear whether the delay will ease pressure on the Venezuelan government.

An unnamed US government official quoted by news agency Reuters said that a delay “likely would not prompt the US administration to hold back on sanctions”.


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