Caracas, October 16, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) has confirmed that Sunday’s vote in Venezuelan gubernatorial elections was clean and transparent.
“The vote took place peacefully and without problems… the vote reflects the will of [Venezuelan] citizens,” declared CEELA President Nicanor Moscoso during a press conference Monday morning.
The CEELA delegation was comprised of 1300 international observers, including former Colombian Electoral Court President Guillermo Reyes, ex-president of the Honduran Supreme Electoral Court, Augusto Aguilar, and former Peruvian electoral magistrate Gastón Soto.
According to the body’s report, the vote was held under conditions of “total normality” and the right to a secret ballot was “guaranteed”.
Sunday’s elections pitted President Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela against the right-wing MUD coalition, with the former scoring a surprise win in 17 of the nation’s 23 states.
The results have, however, been rejected by the MUD, which has alleged “fraud” and called on its supporters to take to the streets in protest.
The MUD has accused the National Electoral Council of attempting to suppress opposition turnout by relocating 334 voting centers previously targeted by anti-government violence during July 30’s National Constituent Assembly Elections.
Announced several weeks ago, the relocations were concentrated in the states of Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Lara, Merida, Miranda, and Tachira. Nonetheless, in Merida and Tachira, the MUD emerged triumphant, despite there being 58 and 42 changes in voting centers, respectively.
For its part, CEELA has reported that it has yet to receive any formal denunciations from the opposition, which has issued its fraud allegations via the media.
President Maduro has requested a 100 percent audit of Sunday’s elections, a call that was subsequently echoed by the MUD.
Nothewstanding CEELA’s certification of the outcome, Venezuela’s regional elections have come under fire from Washington and Paris.
“We condemn the lack of free and fair elections yesterday in Venezuela. The voice of the Venezuelan people was not heard,” declared US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The diplomat did not, however, offer specific evidence explaining her government’s disavowal of the election result.
In recent months, the Trump administration has taken an increasingly aggressive stance against the Maduro government, imposing economic sanctions, decreeing a travel ban on Venezuelan officials, as well as threatening military intervention and an embargo.
France’s Foreign Ministry likewise issued a communique Monday in which it alleged “serious irregularities” and “lack of transparency in the verification and tabulation process”
“France deplores this situation and is working with its EU partners to examine appropriate measures to help resolve the serious crisis affecting the country,” the French government continued.
France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, has become an increasingly vocal critic of the Maduro government Caracas.
In September, the French leader met with senior Venezuelan opposition politicians during a tour by the MUD to drum up support for EU sanctions against Venezuela.
The European Parliament voted last month to explore the option of sanctioning top Venezuelan officials, following the lead of Washington and Ottawa.
In response to the statement by Paris, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took to Twitter Monday, lambasting European interference in his country’s internal affairs.
“The EU and some of its member states (subordinate to Trump) question the will of the Venezuelan people,” he stated.
“In Europe, they’d only wish to have a real democracy, where their peoples can freely choose between two truly contrasting projects,” Arreaza added.