Venezuela’s Main Opposition Candidate Unable To Access Website To Register For Election.

Photo: Pixabay. Venezuelan elections are invariably controversial.
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Venezuela’s main opposition coalition says its candidate has been blocked from July’s presidential election and that it was unable to access the electoral council website to register its candidate, 80-year-old Corina Yoris.

It is the latest setback for the PUD, whose leader, María Corina Machado, has been barred from running for office.

Polls have suggested that if the election was free and fair, Ms Machado could beat President Nicolás Maduro.

 

The White House, meanwhile, told reporters that the US was “committed to maintaining sanctions relief” for Venezuela — so long as it follows through with its commitment to free and fair elections.

“It is critical that the Maduro regime recognise and respect the right of all candidates to run,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Machado had previously been selected as the PUD candidate in an October opposition primary, winning the nomination by a landslide. An estimated 2.4 million voters defied government threats of criminal prosecution by participating in the primary.

But in January, Venezuela’s Supreme Court upheld the ban against Machado, on grounds she had engaged in corruption while serving as a legislator in the National Assembly.

President Maduro had no computer problems registering his candidacy for a third consecutive term in office.

He celebrated with a rally in the capital Caracas, where he was cheered by supporters wearing the red colour associated with his socialist PSUV party.

Twelve people from a variety of small parties were also able to file candidates – some are aligned with the government and none of them is thought to be a serious challenger to President Maduro.

One of those who was able to register was the governor of the state of Zulia, Manuel Rosales, from the Un Tiempo Nuevo (A New Era) party.

He surprised many by putting himself forward at the last minute, seemingly without the knowledge of the PUD coalition of which Un Tiempo Nuevo forms part.

>Asked if the opposition PUD would now rally around Mr Rosales, Ms Machado responded simply: “My candidate is Corina Yoris.”

Ms Machado argued that by blocking Ms Yoris from registering, President Maduro had effectively “chosen” who he would run against. “They’re not [free] elections, if the regime chooses the candidates,” she said.

Ms Machado, 56, made headlines in October when the notoriously divided opposition united behind her. She received more than 90% of votes in a primary election organised by the opposition.

The primary was denounced by the government of President Maduro as illegitimate and Ms Machado and members of her Vente Venezuela party have been targeted by the authorities since her overwhelming win.

everal regional campaign officials have been jailed over the past months.

And only last week, arrest warrants were issued for her campaign manager and eight other staffers, who have been accused of taking part in a conspiracy to overthrow President Maduro.

María Corina Machado herself had a ban which prevents her from running for public office confirmed by the Supreme Court, which is stacked with government loyalists.

President Maduro, who has been in power since 2013, has withstood international pressure to allow Ms Machado to run in the presidential election scheduled for 28 July.

He told his supporters last month that “we’re going to win by hook or by crook, we’re going to win, always”.

With the deadline for the registration of candidates fast approaching and Ms Machado’s ban still in place, the PUD on Friday picked Corina Yoris to replace her.

Ms Yoris, an 80-year-old academic, is relatively unknown even in opposition circles. The fact that she is a newcomer to politics was seen as an asset by the coalition, which argued that this made it harder for her opponents to discredit her.

Even so, she has already had to rebut allegations that she was born outside of Venezuela, which would have made her ineligible for the presidency.

When it came to registering her candidacy by the deadline set for Monday evening, however, the opposition coalition hit a wall.

In videos uploaded to social media, the PUD showed how they repeatedly tried and failed to log into the electoral council website to register Ms Yoris’s candidacy.

An in-person request filed at the electoral council for an extension to the deadline was rebuffed.

Ms Yoris said that her rights as a Venezuelan citizen had been “violated” by being blocked from registering.

The White House, meanwhile, told reporters that the US was “committed to maintaining sanctions relief” for Venezuela — so long as it follows through with its commitment to free and fair elections.

“It is critical that the Maduro regime recognise and respect the right of all candidates to run,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera.
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