In Brief

Venezuelan opposition banned from presidential election

Three major parties barred by Nicolas Maduro following boycott of mayoral elections

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that three major opposition parties will be banned from participating in the country’s presidential election in 2018.

Maduro said the Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action parties will be excluded from the ballot because they had boycotted mayoral elections held on Sunday and “disappeared from the political map”.

“A party that has not participated today and has called for the boycott of the elections can't participate anymore,” Maduro said. “If they don't want elections, what are they doing? What's the alternative? War?”

The three main opposition parties had announced the boycott in October, claiming that the electoral system was biased, and that the election only served Maduro’s “dictatorship”.

“Maduro's pronouncement is designed to provoke the opposition,” the BBC reports. “Especially since he justified the move saying it was a condition set out by the National Constituent Assembly - a body that the opposition refuses to recognise because they say it's undemocratic.”

The Independent says the announcement “confused opposition supporters already disillusioned at the failure to weaken Maduro in months of protests that took 125 lives earlier this year”.

“Key opposition figures who have led street protests against Maduro, including Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez, would be included in the ban,” Deutsche Welle reports.

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