Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has warned that elections may be repeated in the states won by the opposition if the elected governors refuse to be sworn in before the newly-formed constituent assembly.
“Anyone who wants to be governor will have to recognize the National Constituent Assembly; otherwise elections will be repeated in states where the Assembly is not recognized,” Maduro said during a televised speech Friday.
In the October 15 regional elections, Venezuela
’s Socialist Party of Maduro won 18 of the 23 governorships in the country and the opposition Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) managed to grab only five.
The opposition coalition refused to recognize the results and alleged that there had been irregularities in the voting process.
The governors-elect in five Venezuelan states have declined to participate in the swearing-in ceremony and pledge allegiance to the National Constituent Assembly.
The opposition, which does not recognize the assembly, says the oath of office must be taken before regional parliaments and not before the assembly, which replaced opposition-led Congress following the July 30 referendum.
The MUD said in a statement that it would not allow its five governors to be subjected to “the blackmail of the fraudulent Constituent Assembly.”
General view of the swearing-in ceremony of the elected governors before the Constituent Assembly in Caracas on October 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“We will only be sworn in before God and the respective legislative councils and not before the fraudulent Constituent Assembly,” the opposition party noted.
Opposition leaders have threatened that they would travel abroad to denounce what they call outright fraud during the past two Venezuelan elections, particularly the July 30 vote.
The Latin American country was the scene of months-long opposition protests earlier this year.
The unrest left at least 125 people from both camps dead and hundreds of others injured. The violence also led to thousands of arrests and caused widespread property destruction across the country, which is grappling with an economic crisis.
The socialist president has repeatedly accused the Venezuelan opposition of planning a “coup d’état” with the help of Washington.
Maduro has slammed the US and its regional allies for fueling recent political tensions gripping Venezuela by openly siding with the opposition.