July 1, 2020 / 4:43 PM / a month ago

Venezuela's electoral board considers December 13 for new parliamentary vote

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during the Venezuela's national award of journalism ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela June 29, 2020. Picture taken June 29, 2020. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s electoral authority is considering new parliamentary elections on Dec. 13, one of its directors said on Wednesday, though the opposition says President Nicolas Maduro is trying to rig the vote to sideline rival Juan Guaido.

The government-aligned Supreme Court in June appointed a new National Electoral Council (CNE) ahead of the vote to elect new lawmakers to the National Assembly, which the opposition has held for the previous five-year period.

The electoral board will meet later on Wednesday to approve a final date, the director, Rafael Simon Jimenez, told reporters.

The main opposition coalition, led by Guaido, who is the National Assembly’s current president, does not recognize the Supreme Court’s rulings as legitimate and says it will boycott the vote unless Maduro’s administration demonstrates it will be free and fair.

As evidence the elections will not be fair, the opposition has pointed to a recent court ruling ousting the leaders of two key opposition parties and replacing them with politicians accused of being shadow allies of the ruling Socialist Party.

Any loss of control of the parliament would complicate the standing of Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by dozens of Western countries due to his position. Guaido and allies accuse Maduro of rigging his 2018 re-election.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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