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Venezuelan candidates sign agreement to accept electoral results: US-backed opposition abstains

  • President Maduro and seven other candidates pledged to uphold peace and democracy while committing to reject US sanctions

By Andreína Chávez Alava

CARACAS, (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) proposed an agreement for presidential candidates to acknowledge and respect the July 28 electoral results while ensuring a peaceful process.

In a live TV broadcast on Thursday, president Nicolás Maduro and seven opposition candidates visited the CNE headquarters in Caracas and signed the nine-point document pledging to comply with the Constitution and electoral laws and recognize the Electoral Power as the only legitimate authority.

The third point specifically requested candidates to acknowledge that the CNE has “consistently upheld electoral guarantees” and accept the July results as “will of the people,” in accordance with the Barbados and Caracas agreements signed in October 2023 and February 2024, respectively.

The eight signatories also vowed to guarantee a democratic peaceful process, reject violence or destabilization, defend national sovereignty and self-determination and demand the lifting of US-led sanctions. Since 2017, Venezuela has been targeted by unilateral measures endorsed by some opposition sectors.

In the final paragraphs, the CNE accord had candidates agree to “reject and denounce any financing from illicit sources.”

Venezuelan electoral processes have been previously marred by post-election instability. In the 2013 presidential vote, where Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles, the hardline opposition did not recognize the electoral results and unleashed violent street protests in an effort to overturn the outcome.

In 2018, the US-backed opposition boycotted the presidential vote, instead pursuing a regime-change strategy that a self-proclaimed “interim government” led by little-known lawmaker Juan Guaidó. The following year, the US government imposed an oil blockade and seized Venezuela’s US-based oil subsidiary CITGO.

During the meeting with the CNE authorities, Maduro celebrated the agreement as a “step forward to preserve peace”. He affirmed that the CNE document falls in “perfect line” with the political rights and electoral guarantees laid out in the October 2023 Barbados Agreement.

“Today with this signature we have said no to violence,” said the Venezuelan president during the live event. “We have to respect the referee. If it summons you, you are obliged as a candidate to attend and listen. I call on the Venezuelan people to support this document.”

The other candidates who signed the electoral pledge were Luis Eduardo Martínez, Antonio Ecarri, Daniel Ceballos, Benjamín Rausseo, José Brito, Javier Bertucci and Claudio Fermín. All seven represent a number of center and right-wing political parties.

The candidate for the US-backed Unity Platform, Edmundo González Urrutia, did not attend the meeting and refused to sign the document.

“Nobody is going to force me to sign a document with which I do not agree,” González told reporters on Thursday. The 74-year-old rejected the agreement to recognize the electoral results claiming it was an “imposition.”

The former diplomat was an unknown figure until his candidacy was presented at the last minute by the hardline opposition in March. Initially, he was a “placeholder” contender after far-right politician María Corina Machado saw her political ban upheld by the Venezuelan Supreme Court in January. In April, he was announced as the “unity” candidate after longtime hardline opposition leader Manuel Rosales withdrew his candidacy.

Candidate Enrique Marquez of the Centrados party was also absent. The former CNE rector argued that the agreement was “useless” and that candidates had not been consulted.

For his part, CNE president Elvis Amoroso criticized the far-right political forces for not signing the agreement.

“This indicates that they want to disregard, destabilize and sabotage the electoral process, but with or without them there will be elections on July 28,” Amoroso told reporters on Thursday.

Ten candidates, all men, will compete in the presidential election. The vote will be electronic and is a one-round election won by plurality. Political parties have witnesses at every polling station, take part in several audits before, during and after the vote, and have to enter partial encryption keys to validate results.

The CNE has extended invitations to a wide range of observation missions as well as more than 250 individuals, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the African Union and the United Nations (UN). In May, the electoral authorities withdrew its invitation to the European Union (EU) after rejecting the bloc’s interference in the country’s affairs.

The Carter Center has confirmed it will send a technical election observation mission that will arrive in Caracas on June 29. The team of experts will be led by Jennie Lincoln, the organization’s senior advisor on Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a communique issued on Friday, the Carter Center said its mission “will not conduct a comprehensive assessment of the voting, counting, and tabulation processes” due to its limited size and scope. It also reassured it will act “according to the memorandum of understanding signed with the CNE” and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers.

In 2012, former US president Jimmy Carter praised the Venezuelan electoral process as “the best in the world.”



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