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article imageVenezuela opposition parties to boycott local elections

By AFP     Oct 30, 2017 in World

Three major opposition parties in Venezuela announced Monday they will boycott municipal elections in December, saying the vote will not be free or transparent.

"Taking part in these elections is not viable," said Henry Ramos Allup of Democratic Action, one of the three parties. The voting is scheduled for December.

The two other parties, Popular Will led by Leopoldo Lopez -- who is under house arrest -- and the Justice First party of former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, also said they would not take part.

In regional elections this month, President Nicolas Maduro's party eased to victory in 18 of 23 states but the opposition complained of irregularities.

Maduro reacted angrily to the snub, threatening to jail those who he says are seeking to sabotage the polls.

"I declare myself in battle against those who intend to revolt and attack the electoral system," Maduro told a meeting of governors elected in the regional polls.

He said the opposition parties were obeying an "order" to sabotage the polls that the US embassy in Caracas gave them.

"There are enough places in prisons for those who want to set Venezuela on fire," he said.

The three parties, the main components of the Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition, said they would focus on seeking better electoral conditions for the 2018 presidential election.

"We are not going to participate in the municipal elections, we will fight for guarantees to freely choose a new government," said key opposition figure Julio Borges of the Justice First party.

"There are no electoral or political conditions" to take part in the polls, said a spokesman for Popular Will, Freddy Guevara.

The announcements came after the end of an opposition meeting Monday to decide whether to take part in the polls, which were announced on Friday by Venezuela's all-powerful Constituent Assembly, packed with Maduro loyalists.

An opposition source told AFP that the parties who make up the coalition, both large and small, were divided over whether to run candidates in the polls.

"It's difficult, some want to go, others do not," he said.

Analysts said Maduro's socialist government had opted to bring forward the local elections to December to take advantage of the momentum gained in the sweeping regional election win, as well as disarray in the opposition ranks.

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