EU election observers start work ahead of regional and local vote in Venezuela


By Vivian Sequera

CARACAS (Reuters) – European Union election observers began their mission in Venezuela on Thursday, as the campaign began for next month’s regional elections which are expected to include opposition candidates.

This is the first time in 15 years that the EU has sent observers to Venezuela.

Opposition parties are entering the November 21 contest after boycotting the 2018 and 2020 presidential and legislative elections respectively, votes in which they alleged President Nicolas Maduro and his party won illegitimate victories.

“The opposition will participate in these elections (…) we want to hear from everyone,” mission chief Isabel Santos told reporters before the observers left the capital Caracas for the country‘s cities. .

More than 3,000 positions – including governors, mayors and city councilors – are to be filled next month, according to Venezuela’s electoral authority. Some 21 million voters are eligible to participate.

A total of 44 EU observers have arrived in Venezuela so far. They will work in 22 of the country’s 23 states, Santos said, adding that no staff will be sent to Amazonas state due to transportation difficulties and the coronavirus pandemic.

Observers will issue a preliminary report two days after the vote, with the final report expected to take two months, said Santos, Member of the European Parliament from Portugal.

The observers will remain deployed across the country until November 29.

The Carter Center, a US-based rights group, also plans to send four international election experts to Venezuela in early November, he said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Sandra Maler)

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