Venezuela’s Maduro invites UN, EU observers to December elections

The Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday it had invited the leaders of the United Nations and European Union to send observers to monitor parliamentary elections in December

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter that a letter had been sent to UN chief Antonio Guterres and EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, outlining “the broad electoral guarantees agreed for the upcoming parliamentary elections,” and inviting them to send observers.

The move came a day after Maduro pardoned more than 100 lawmakers and associates of opposition leader Juan Guaido “in the interests of promoting national reconciliation” ahead of the polls.

Guaido dismissed the move as a ploy to try to legitimize the upcoming elections, which the main opposition has said it will boycott.

Last month, Borrell called for the elections to be postponed saying that “the conditions for a transparent, inclusive, free and fair electoral process” did not exist.

Neither were there sufficient guarantees “for the European Union to be able to deploy an electoral observation mission,” he said.

However, Borrell indicated on Tuesday that the release of prisoners “is good news and a sine qua non condition to continue advancing in the organization of free, inclusive and transparent elections.”

The UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet also welcomed the move in a statement on Tuesday.

In January 2019, National Assembly speaker Guaido challenged Maduro’s authority by declaring himself acting president, claiming Maduro had stolen his 2018 re-election in a rigged vote.

Guaido quickly received the backing of more than 50 countries including the United States, which has dismissed Maduro’s prisoner release as a “token” measure and said he continued to hold hundreds of political prisoners, undermining the conditions required to hold a free and fair election.