Venezuela opposition urges UN not to send observers to May vote
Newly formed opposition coalition says fraudulent election is set by officials loyal to socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who accuses US of pressuring the UN to disregard his request of sending an observer mission for May 20 polls.
A member of the Venezuelan opposition demonstrates in front of the UN headquarters in Caracas against the alleged electoral fraud and the government of Nicolas Maduro, on March, 12, 2018. (AFP)
Venezuela’s newly formed opposition coalition urged the United Nations on Monday not to recognise the presidential elections in May saying it is rigged in favour of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
The coalition called the Broad Front For A Free Venezuela – which includes members of Venezuela’s churches, workers unions and university students – hopes to draw international attention to what it says is fraudulent election set by officials loyal to Maduro.
In the letter delivered to the UN’s offices in Caracas, the group called for the international entity to refrain from recognising the May 20 elections, as well as to urgently provide humanitarian support to address the health and food crisis.
Maduro, who is seeking re-election amid an economic collapse that has sent a tide of migrants to neighbouring countries, has asked the United Nations to send observers to the vote.
Not a free election?
“The election of the 20th of May is a fraud, and not a true free presidential election,” Sergio Sanchez, spokesperson of the Broad Front alliance said.
The main opposition coalition is boycotting the election on the grounds that the elections council has historically favoured the ruling Socialist Party, and because the best-known candidates have been jailed or barred from holding office.
“What we have asked the United Nations today is not to validate the electoral fraud in May,” said legislator Delsa Solorzano of the Broad Front coalition at a small demonstration outside a UN office in Caracas.
She added that any UN mission should “be only for human rights issues, not to validate a dictatorship.”
A UN spokesperson contacted via email said the government’s request for a mission had been received.
“But our position on all such matters is that the sending of electoral observers requires a mandate from one of the UN’s Member State bodies” such as the Security Council or General Assembly, wrote spokesperson Farhan Aziz Haq.
“If the (General Assembly) or the Security Council were to provide a mandate, we would respond accordingly. But neither has done so up until now.”
Opposition leaders are planning a protest on Saturday to demand better conditions for the upcoming vote.
Former state governor Henri Falcon has broken with the coalition and will run against Maduro, insisting that Maduro’s low opinion poll numbers make him a weak candidate.
Maduro says his government is the victim of an “economic war” led by the opposition with the help of Washington.
His critics say the country’s problems are the result of dysfunctional socialist policies.
Maduro accuses the US of pressuring the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to disregard the Venezuelan government’s request of sending an observer mission for the elections.
Washington and other governments of the Latin American region have questioned the elections and anticipated that they would not recognise their results.