Venezuela’s opposition coalition likely to decide boycott of April presidential election

Vastavam web: Leaders of Venezuela’s opposition coalition appeared likely on Monday to decide on a boycott of the April presidential election, believing authorities have rigged it for President Nicolas Maduro and his ruling socialists.Maduro, the 55-year-old successor of Hugo Chavez, is seeking re-election in the April 22 vote despite his unpopularity and a crushing economic crisis. But critics say the election is a farce, with Maduro’s main rivals barred from standing and a compliant election body bound to favour the socialists.

The coalition was due to meet at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Monday, politicians said. One senior member of the Justice First party told Reuters it would formalise there a decision to boycott the vote in protest at unfair conditions.“They’ll explain why at the end of today or tomorrow. It’s a big mistake in my view, but that’s the decision.”Another major opposition party, Popular Will, led by protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is under house arrest, has already unilaterally announced it will not take part in the election.

The national election board, which is widely perceived by Venezuelans as pro-government, has also banned Democratic Unity and several of the major opposition parties from formally participating in the vote.The board says the parties did not comply with election rules including a signature drive to re-legalize their status.Maduro has repeatedly denied any flaws in Venezuela’s election system and reacted angrily to international censure of the calling of a snap election in April.