US 'rejects' Venezuela's planned election
The United States on Wednesday denounced Venezuela's plan to hold a presidential election before the end of April, arguing that such a vote would not be free and fair.
The vote was called by Venezuela's Constituent Assembly, a body Washington alleges was set up to bypass democratic controls and entrench President Nicolas Maduro's power.
On Tuesday, a top United Socialist Party official confirmed that 55-year-old Maduro, who was late leader Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor, would be a candidate for re-election.
Maduro's rule has generated widespread and angry protests amid a deep economic crisis, but the opposition is divided and he seems to be seeking an early vote to consolidate power.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "The United States strongly rejects the call by Venezuela's illegitimate Constituent Assembly for snap presidential elections before April 30."
"This vote would be neither free nor fair. It would only deepen, not help resolve, national tensions," she declared.
"It would not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people, and would be seen as undemocratic and illegitimate in the eyes of the international community."
The State Department urged Venezuela to set up a "transparent electoral process open to credible international observation" and to fulfill its international and inter-American democratic commitments.
© 2018 AFP