Zulia Governorship Declared “Vacant” in Venezuela, Municipal Elections Set for December

Zulia state is possibly looking at new state-governor elections within the next thirty days. 

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Venezuela's Legislative Council for Zulia State approved a motion confirming that state governor-elect for the opposition, Juan Guanipa, had failed to appear to assume his post. (Prensa_Clez)
Venezuela's Legislative Council for Zulia State approved a motion confirming that state governor-elect for the opposition, Juan Guanipa, had failed to appear to assume his post. (Prensa_Clez)

Bogota, October 26 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Legislative Council of Zulia State has declared the state’s governorship position vacant after the opposition’s governor-elect refused to swear-in before Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC). 

“The Legislative Council of the State of Zulia (CLEZ) during a session carried out this Thursday (October 26) signed off on the absolute vacancy for the governor’s seat, elected for the constitutional period of 2017-2021,” reads the CLEZ statement.  

Juan Guanipa was elected as Zulia state-governor for the opposition party Justice First in regional elections on October 15. However, he has consistently refused to assume his position before the delegates of the elected constituent assembly, which he says is illegitimate. 

All other twenty-two governors, including four for the opposition Democratic Action party, have already taken an oath before the body. The ANC is Venezuela’s most important decision-making authority, according to the national Constitution. 

Venezuelan news agencies report that the CLEZ took Thursday’s decision based on on Article 75, Ordinal 5 of the Venezuelan Constitution, and that CLEZ President Magdelis Valbuena will assume the state-governor position for the interim period. 

The ANC will debate how to rectify the situation later this Thursday, though several government spokespeople have indicated that new state-governor elections will most likely be held within the next thirty days.

Guanipa has since labelled the CLEZ’s decision an “assault on the will of the Zulia people”, however, government spokespeople say the opposition politician is refusing to comply with the country’s own democratic structures. 

“If the ANC called [these elections], and they put themselves forward to stand, then they already complying with its norms,” said assembly delegate Pedro Carreño.

He also added that Guanipa had refused to swear-in before the body as he was afraid of losing his “paycheck” from more radical sectors of the opposition and their allies abroad, who oppose the move. 

Several of the coalition’s international supporters, including the Secretary General for the Organization of American States Luis Almagro, have criticized the opposition coalition the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) for "legitimising Venezuela's dictatorship" by participating in the regional elections.

The decision of the other four opposition state-governors to swear in before the ANC Monday, in spite of their official leadership's position, has plunged the coalition into chaos. As of Tuesday, MUD leaders indicated that the alliance was facing a possible split. 

Meanwhile the ANC revealed that municipal elections to choose the country’s mayors will be held in December. The exact date is yet to be set.