Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has dismissed as “impossible” the EU’s suggestion to postpone the country’s December 6 election to meet the bloc’s conditions to dispatch an observer mission, blaming the idea on US pressure.
“It is impossible because there is a very clear constitutional mandate,” Maduro said Thursday in a nationally televised address. “We want to have a good relationship with the European Union, but Washington does not let them.”
Maduro has repeatedly maintained that the administration of hawkish US President Donald Trump is persistently plotting to topple his government in a coup to seize control of the oil-rich nation’s huge crude oil reserves.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have drastically deteriorated in recent years amid multiple efforts by the US government to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company and other industries in its bid to destabilize the country.
Venezuela’s constitution requires a new poll every five years while US-backed opposition parties have vowed to boycott the election.
European and Latin American ministers in the International Contact Group (ICG) declared after their video conference on Thursday that conditions were not ripe to send observers to Venezuela’s parliamentary elections next December.
“ICG members concluded that conditions are not met, at the moment, for a transparent, inclusive, free and fair electoral process,” the group announced in a statement following the conference chaired by EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell.
The ICG groups European countries including Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as well as a number of Latin American countries. Argentina is back in the group while Bolivia has left it.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza invited observers from the United Nations and the European Union, in letters addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Borrell early this month, to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country.
In the letters, Arreaza outlined “the broad electoral guarantees agreed for the upcoming parliamentary elections.”
Maduro pardoned over 100 legislators and associates of US-sponsored opposition figure Juan Guaido to promote national reconciliation ahead of the congressional elections in December.
Guaido pushed Venezuela into political turmoil by dismissing the results of the 2018 presidential election after Maduro won nearly 70 percent of the votes. The opposition figure declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January last year and later launched a US-backed abortive coup to oust Maduro’s elected government.