Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is seeking to use the Supreme Court to accelerate the appointment of electoral officials mainly loyal to his government, laying the groundwork for congressional elections in December, according to seven people familiar with matter.
Maduro’s administration is preparing to appoint an all-new board to the electoral body known as CNE through a Supreme Court ruling as soon as next week, according to five of the people, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
That would bypass the regular process requiring the vote of two thirds of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Maduro’s government wants elections in the first two weeks of December, in the hope of ousting supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido from the National Assembly and weakening his claim to power.
A move to unilaterally stack the electoral body with loyalists would cement Maduro’s international image as a dictator and likely usher in more U.S. sanctions designed to crimp his ability to move money, oil and gold around the world. Guaido is deemed Venezuela’s interim president by more than 50 countries following elections in 2018 which the U.S. and its allies said were fraudulent.
The move is a setback for the opposition, which was trying to nominate new leadership to the CNE via the National Assembly. The electoral authority has for years been controlled by government loyalists who have run elections plagued by allegations of fraud.
Press officials for the electoral authority and the Supreme Court didn’t immediately reply to written requests for comment.
Under Venezuelan law, the Supreme Court is only required to participate in the appointment process if the National Assembly fails to agree on the matter. The court is dominated by Maduro-loyalists.
Guaido and the National Assembly have have been locked in a power struggle with a parallel assembly appointed early this year with the help of pro-government legislators. This, together with disagreements among opposition lawmakers and the coronavirus lockdown, halted the appointment process at the legislature, which had gone as far as to create a committee to select new CNE candidates.
On Thursday, a representative for minority oppositionparties, Felipe Mujica, asked the high court to appoint the new electoral authorities, a move that follows weeks of negotiations between the government and minority parties seeking to move forward with elections. Guaido and his allies didn’t take part in the talks, and haven’t decided whether to take part in the elections, which they say are unlikely to be fair.
The post Maduro Maneuvers to Keep Control of Venezuela Electoral Body appeared first on Bloomberg.