Crisis-hit Venezuela to hold municipal vote in December

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(AFP) Municipal elections in Venezuela will go ahead in December, the country’s all-powerful Constituent Assembly decreed Thursday, giving the socialist government a chance to build on victory in last week’s regional polls.

President Nicolas Maduro

The decree reversed a recent announcement by President Nicolas Maduro that the local polls would be delayed to the first quarter of 2018.

The Constituent Assembly, which is composed entirely of Maduro supporters, did not announce a date for the elections.

The socialist government is trying to take advantage of the momentum gained from last week’s regional elections in which Maduro’s allies swept 18 of Venezuela’s 23 governorships, analyst Eugenio Martinez said.

“It is also trying to take advantage of the opposition’s disarray,” Martinez told AFP.

The defeat exposed sharp divisions within the Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition. Four of its five elected governors broke ranks with the coalition and agreed to be sworn in before the Constituent Assembly, which the opposition refuses to recognise.

Maduro had set it as a condition of the vote that all successful candidates had to be sworn in before the Assembly.

Only one of the five successful opposition governors, Juan Pablo Guanipa, refused to recognize the Assembly.

On Thursday, the legislative council with responsibility for governors declared Guanipa to have forfeited his position and called new elections for December in his oil-producing state of Zulia.

Currently, the socialist party holds 242 of the 337 municipal authorities in the country. The opposition hold 76, with the rest held by independents.

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