CARACAS (AP) – The Venezuelan electoral authority summoned the election of the members of the National Assembly of this South American country for December on Wednesday amidst the tensions generated by the selection of a new National Electoral Council on the fringes of the Legislative – with an opposition majority – and made up of directors mostly seen as allies of the Nicolás Maduro government.
Venezuelans will go to the polls on December 6 to elect 277 deputies, announced the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Indira Alfonzo, in a televised statement.
The current Assembly is dominated by an opposition majority and is headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who seeks to separate Maduro from power. Guaidó, who declared himself interim president in 2019 in defiance of Maduro, is recognized by the United States and more than 60 countries when considering that Maduro won the election in fraudulent elections in May 2018.
In the next elections the number of positions to be elected increased from 167 to 277, arguing the population growth, estimated at about 32 million inhabitants.
The call came 19 days after the Supreme Court of Justice, controlled by the government, appointed Indira Alfonzo and Gladys Gutiérrez, both magistrates of the Court; the former legislator and former ally of the now deceased President Hugo Chávez, Rafael Simón Jiménez; Tania D’Amelio, current member of the Electoral Power, and José Luis Gutiérrez as new members of the Council.
The Supreme Court, as it has done since the deputies were elected in December 2015, through a ruling stripped another of its powers to the current National Assembly, which by constitutional mandate has the power to elect the members of the CNE executives. At the same time, the rapprochement process that the opposition and official legislators were advancing to elect the members of the electoral body by consensus was truncated.
The highest court also replaced the leaders of the two largest opposition parties and instead appointed opposition militants as leaders who reject the boycott of the legislative elections raised by the leaders left aside in the judicial action.
Alfonzo, president of the CNE, indicated that the 87 constituencies employed in 2015 remain. The nomination of candidates for the period 2021-2026 will take place between August 10 and 19.
“Yesterday we announced the unanimous approval of the special rules that will govern these elections; signed by the principles of equality, and proportional representation without exception.” Alfonzo asserted.
The board of the electoral body also approved the opening of the registry of new voters from July 13 to 26 amid a “radical quarantine” due to the new coronavirus, the first two cases of which were registered on March 13 in Venezuela. The quarantine has been in effect since March 16.
For his part, Maduro guaranteed that all sanitary measures will be taken to allow the participation of all voters in safe conditions.
“A new National Assembly is coming with all the protection of biosecurity,” Maduro said in a televised government event referring to the measures that are designed to prevent contagion. “The constitution obliges us to make these elections and the CNE has set the date” .
On January 5, 2021, the date of installation of the new Legislative, “a new National Assembly is born” and “born of the popular vote,” he added.
Alfonzo stressed, without giving details, that to “guarantee the participation of all citizens” the electoral body will adjust the processes, provided for in the electoral calendar, taking into account the pandemic by COVID-19. In Venezuela there are more than 5,800 positive cases and 51 deaths.
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