China backs Venezuela as opposition excluded from election

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China on Friday expressed support for Venezuela and condemned “external interference”, after its ally came under fire from the United States, France and Brazil for blocking a key opposition candidate from July elections.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian urged the international community to play a “positive and constructive role” in Venezuela’s election.

“We respect Venezuela’s national and sovereign independence, support Venezuela in advancing the election in accordance with its constitution and laws, and oppose external interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs,” he said.

Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unitary Platform was this week forced to register an unknown candidate after being unable to sign up Corina Yoris, 80, to face off against President Nicolas Maduro, who is seeking a third term in office.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the blockage during a joint press conference in Brazilia.

“We very firmly condemn the exclusion of a serious and credible candidate from this process,” Macron.

Lula said there was “no legal or political explanation for banning an opponent from being a candidate.”

“I told Maduro that the most important thing to restore normality in Venezuela was to avoid any problems in the electoral process, that the elections be held in the most democratic way possible.”

Their remarks came after Washington’s criticism a day earlier over the fact that the electoral council only accepted “opposition candidates with whom Maduro and his representatives feel comfortable.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the move ran “counter to competitive and inclusive elections that the Venezuelan people and international community will view as legitimate.”

Yoris was already the embattled opposition’s Plan B.

PUD leader Maria Corina Machado overwhelmingly won an opposition primary in October last year, but was banned from public office for 15 years by courts loyal to Maduro accused of corruption — a charge she dismisses as fabricated — and of supporting sanctions against his government.

So, she tapped Yoris, a university professor, as her stand-in.

However, by the time the deadline struck on Monday, the PUD was unable to access the website to register Yoris, and had to slip in a lesser-known “provisional candidate”.

Many countries, including the United States, refused to accept the results of Maduro’s 2018 victory, alleging fraud and a lack of transparency, after a boycorr by the opposition.

AFP

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