EU keeps up pressure on Venezuela to delay election

The European Union on Wednesday again urged Venezuela to delay a December 6 parliamentary poll, saying that “conditions now in place do not allow for fair, democratic, competitive elections”.

Staffers from Brussels’ European External Action Service (EEAS) spent five days last week meeting figures from the government and opposition, including leaders Juan Guaido and Henrique Capriles, as well as church representatives and business leaders, the agency said in a statement.

A senior European official told AFP that the bloc is not confident that Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Caracas will push back the election by six months as the EU has urged.

“We’re expecting a response within two weeks. After that, we’ll consider it to be in the negative,” the official said.

In its statement, the EEAS said that “without a postponement and an improvement in the democratic and electoral conditions, the EU cannot consider sending an electoral observation mission.

“It is the time for bold Venezuelan-owned decisions in support of a peaceful and democratic transition,” it added.

The EU does not recognise Maduro as Venezuela’s president, supporting instead Guaido, speaker of the National Assembly – the only democratically-elected state body in the country.

Currently controlled by the opposition, its members’ seats will be in play at the December 6 election. The European official said the regime’s objective at the polls is to reclaim the speakership from Guaido.

The opposition in Caracas has split, with Guaido at the head of around 30 parties who have backed a boycott of the polls, while Capriles has called for voters to turn out en masse.

A third opposition group with closer ties to the regime has also urged high turnout and hopes to clinch large numbers of seats.

“The EU doesn’t plan to negotiate or take on a mediator’s role in Venezuela,” the official said. “We’re just laying out the conditions for us to participate with an observer mission at the parliamentary vote.”

Nevertheless, if Caracas does not accept the bloc’s demands to delay the ballot, “the EU will recognise neither the National Assembly, nor the Supreme Court,” he added.

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