Venezuelan Opposition Leader Appeals Ban on Holding Public Office

Sat Dec 16 2023
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CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado filed an eleventh-hour court appeal on Friday to overturn a ban on her holding public office, as she seeks to run against President Nicolas Maduro in the 2024 elections.

“Maduro will have to decide whether… to comply or not to comply with the agreements he has assumed with actors of the international community,”, Machado told journalists as she left the Supreme Court.

Negotiators for Maduro and the opposition struck a deal last month in Barbados to take steps toward a competitive election.

The agreement gave opposition figures until December 15 to challenge bans preventing them from holding public office.

Machado, who won overwhelming support in an opposition primary in October, had declined earlier in the week to seek her political reinstatement at the Supreme Court, which the opposition widely sees as subservient to the Maduro government.

Political disqualifications, ordered by the Comptroller’s Office, have been widely used by the Maduro government to sideline possible electoral opposition.

Machado, a former legislator, called her disqualification “a non-existent act,” alleging that she was never formally notified of it.

ALSO READ: Venezuela’s Opposition Holding Primary to Pick Challenger for Maduro in 2024 Presidential Contest

She said her actions at the Supreme Court were part of “a complex negotiation process” with one purpose “to have clean and free elections.”

Following the Barbados agreement, the US government eased sanctions on Venezuelan oil, gas and gold for six months, but made the move contingent on the lifting of bans on opposition figures, among other actions.

“We applaud Maria Corina Machado and other candidates for their courage and willingness to appeal their ineligibilities,” the US Embassy for Caracas, which operates out of Bogota, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Now it is up to the representatives of Nicholas Maduro to demonstrate their commitment to competitive… elections.”

Jorge Rodriguez, president of the National Assembly, controlled by the ruling party, rejected the US statement.

“It is not (an) embassy accredited in our country, but a propaganda office at the service of the darkest interests against the peace of Venezuela,” he wrote on X. “Venezuela accepts no directives from anyone.” —AFP

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