The European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Venezuela to observe the regional and local elections.
Campaigning has kicked off for regional and municipal elections scheduled for November 21, which are set to include opposition candidates as well.
More than 3,000 positions – including governors, mayors and municipal councillors – are up for grabs next month, according to Venezuela’s elections authority. Some 21 million voters are eligible to participate.
Isabel Santos, the chief observer of the EOM, and a member of the European Parliament, told reporters that 44 observers have arrived in Venezuela so far, adding that they will begin their work in 22 of the country’s 23 states except in the Amazonas state due to transport difficulties and the coronavirus pandemic.
“The opposition is going to participate in these elections … we want to hear from everyone,” Santos said before observers set out from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to cities around the country.
The EU has not been present in Venezuela with an EU Election Observation Mission for the past 15 years. The last times EU deployed Election Observation Missions to Venezuela was in 2005 and 2006.
Back in September, Venezuela’s main opposition parties announced an end to three years of boycotting election, saying they would participate in November polls.
They boycotted the 2018 presidential vote, which President Nicolas Maduro won, and the 2020 legislative elections, in which the opposition lost control of Congress.
The decision to end the boycott came after government and opposition representatives began a fresh round of talks in August, mediated by Norway and hosted by Mexico.
The talks were aimed at resolving the political crisis that plagued the Latin American country after US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” in January 2019.
The Carter Center, a U.S.-based advocacy group, also plans to send four international electoral experts to Venezuela in early November.
After nearly three years of attempting to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the US-backed opposition with Juan Guaido at its head entirely lost steam and decided to play by the internal rules of Venezuela – by attending elections. The observers being present add a layer of reliability to the results of the elections.
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