Venezuela sets date for regional elections after calls for talks

The mayoral and gubernatorial elections will be the first overseen by the new council, named earlier this month, which includes three members linked to President Nicolas Maduro's ruling Socialist Party and two members close to the opposition.

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Venezuela sets date for regional elections after calls for talks www.africanpolicy.com

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enezuelan Electoral Council President Pedro Calzadilla said on Thursday that the country would hold regional and local elections on Nov. 21, despite the opposition’s call this week for presidential and parliamentary votes as well.

The mayoral and gubernatorial elections will be the first overseen by the new council, named earlier this month, which includes three members linked to President Nicolas Maduro‘s ruling Socialist Party and two members close to the opposition. Previous boards had been made up solely of Maduro loyalists.

The naming of the new board prompted some opposition politicians to advocate for participating in the elections, after boycotting presidential and parliamentary elections in recent years on the grounds that the conditions were not free and fair.

“This (electoral council) is the result of a national dialogue,” Calzadilla said. “It is with active and hopeful electoral participation that the Venezuelan people have expressed their clear mandate. Our differences should be resolved peacefully.”

But opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the United States and most Western democracies as Venezuela’s legitimate president, said this week the South American country should hold presidential and parliamentary elections as well, and proposed that the United States progressively lift sanctions should Maduro agree.

Guaido and Washington label Maduro a dictator who rigged his 2018 re-election and abuses his power to stifle dissent. Maduro argues the opposition is seeking to oust him in a coup and points to its decision to boycott elections as evidence of its lack of commitment to democracy.

Unending turmoil between govt and opposition

Norway has taken on the role of mediator between the government and the opposition, with Venezuela mired in political and economic crises. Maduro’s government left the talks in 2019.

The November vote would be the first since the 2020 legislative elections boycotted by the opposition, which also refused to take part in the presidential poll that saw Maduro re-elected in 2018.

Last week, the opposition hit out at the regime after the new parliament dominated by Maduro allies named pro-government figures to the top electoral body.

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