Venezuela opposition sticks to primary election date after delay request

Venezuela opposition sticks to primary election date after delay request


Venezuela opposition sticks to primary election date after delay request

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition elections commission on Monday said it would move forward with its Oct. 22 date to elect a candidate to stand against the ruling party in next year's presidential vote, after the national electoral council requested a delay.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) last month responded to a June request to assist the opposition's primary elections, saying it could provide assistance such as voting centers and machines if the date was postponed to Nov. 19 to confirm details.

A majority of 13 opposition candidates rejected this request.

"We could not interrupt the organization of the primary vote," the commission said in the statement on Monday, asking that electoral authorities take into account the slow response from the CNE, which underwent an internal reorganization after some members resigned in June.

The commission - made up of eight lawyers and experts - said it had asked for up to 400 additional voting centers as well as security at the centers and help to facilitate visas for electoral experts and foreign journalists covering the process.

It was not clear how or when the CNE would respond.

Commission president Jesus Maria Casal said the opposition counts some 3,000 electoral centers throughout the country, nearly half in private homes as well as squares and professional centers.

Some 14,000 Venezuelan schools typically serve as electoral centers for the country's 20 million voters, but since the primary is being carried out independently, these cannot be used without provision from the CNE.

Amid criticisms from Washington, Venezuelan authorities have in recent months banned some opposition candidates from holding public office, including Maria Corina Machado, who polls see as the favorite to win the primary vote.

Some Western nations branded the 2018 re-election of President Nicolas Maduro a farce. His government has been in talks with the opposition and the United States on moving towards an agreement for ensuring a free and fair electoral process.