Venezuelan President Maduro set to run for re-election in 2018 vote

Venezuelan President Maduro set to run for re-election in 2018 vote
  • Clock-gray 23:58
  • calendar-gray 23 January 2018

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked sure to stand for re-election in a presidential vote due by the end of April where the ruling Socialists hope to trump a squabbling opposition despite an economic crisis and foreign sanctions, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

The unpopular leader, whom foes decry as a dictator who has wrecked the OPEC member’s economy, said he would run if the ruling Socialist Party asked him, even as Venezuelans reel from empty shelves and the world’s fastest inflation.

 

“I‘m ready to be a candidate,” he told reporters during a rally of cheering red-shirted supporters broadcast on state TV.

 

The 55-year-old former bus driver and union leader, who succeeded Hugo Chavez in 2013, benefits from a formidable political machinery, a compliant national election board, and a hard core of support from poor Venezuelans reliant on state food handouts.

 

Critics from opposition politicians to Western powers doubt authorities will allow a free and fair vote, given the barring of some opposition figures from running plus abuse of state resources in campaigning.

 

Some fear outright fraud.

 

“These are not elections, it’s a military occupation with a fraudulent election board,” said hardline opposition activist Maria Corina Machado, referring to the armed forces’ major role in government and the board’s past pro-Maduro stance.

 

Announcing the presidential poll would be held by the end of April, the pro-government Constituent Assembly superbody legislature said another election in Venezuela was further evidence of its democratic credentials despite a recent raft of international sanctions.

 

The United States, Canada, and the European Union have all taken measures against Venezuela’s government over rights and corruption allegations, hurting the government’s image and spooking banks from working with Caracas.

 

Maduro blasted the European Union for imposing “grotesque” sanctions this week on seven senior Venezuelan officials, including a travel ban and an asset freeze, and took aim at Spain’s conservative prime minister.

 

“Mariano Rajoy, get on all fours, my friend, because the people are going to slap you,” Maduro said, flanked by cabinet members and wife Cilia Flores, whom he refers to as the “First Combatant.”

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