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Venezuela revokes invitation for European Union mission to observe presidential election in July

A Bolivarian Militia member stands guard next to a banner of the National Electoral Council where people can register to vote in Caracas, Venezuela.
A Bolivarian Militia member stands guard next to a banner of the National Electoral Council where people can register to vote in Caracas, Venezuela. Copyright AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos
Copyright AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos
By Euronews with AP
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Nicolás Maduro's authoritarian regime is still subject to various international sanctions because of its intolerance of political opposition.

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Venezuela's electoral authorities on Tuesday revoked an invitation for a European Union mission to observe the country's upcoming presidential election, in which President Nicolás Maduro is seeking reelection.

The head of the National Electoral Council, Elvis Amoroso, cited economic sanctions imposed by the 27-nation bloc as the reason for withdrawing the invitation. The EU had not yet accepted the invite that was extended earlier this year.

Amoroso said Tuesday's decision is intended to show that EU representatives "are not welcome to come here to our country while the genocidal sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and especially its government, are maintained."

The bloc, however, only maintains sanctions against more than 50 Venezuelans accused of acts of repression or efforts to undermine democracy, but not against the government as a whole.

The announcement came two weeks after the EU temporarily lifted sanctions against four officials linked to the electoral body, including Amoroso, in recognition of the steps taken ahead of the July 28 election. But the relief was vehemently rejected by Venezuela's government and Amoroso, who argued it was selective and insufficient.

An EU statement called on the National Electoral Council to reconsider its decision.

"The Venezuelan people should be able to choose their next president in credible, transparent and competitive elections, supported by international observation, including that of the European Union, which has a long and distinguished record of independent and impartial observation," said the statement posted on the platform X.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaks at the National Election Commission as he formalises his re-election candidacy.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaks at the National Election Commission as he formalises his re-election candidacy.Ariana Cubillos/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

In 2021, the EU accepted the invitation of Venezuelan officials to send a mission to observe regional elections that included gubernatorial and mayoral races. The mission concluded that the contest happened under better conditions than the country's elections in recent years, but that it was nonetheless marred by the use of public funds to benefit pro-government candidates.

Election anomalies cited by the mission included delays in opening and closing voting centres, disproportionately favourable coverage for the ruling party on state television and the use of free food and other goods as political tools, among others.

Venezuela's electoral body earlier this year set the presidential election for July 28 and extended invitations to various organisations to observe the contest. Those decisions fulfilled some of the provisions of an agreement signed last year between Maduro's government and the US-backed Unitary Platform opposition coalition.

Under the agreement signed on the Caribbean island of Barbados, both sides vowed to work toward improving conditions for a free and fair election. Still, Venezuela's government continuously tested the limits of the accord, by, among other actions, blocking the candidacy of the president's chief opponent, María Corina Machado.

Machado, a former lawmaker, won the coalition's October presidential primary with more than 90% of support. But the country's top court in January upheld an administrative decision blocking her candidacy. Her chosen substitute was barred from the ballot, too.

Machado and the coalition are now backing former diplomat Edmundo González Urrutia.

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