UN official: No aid for controversial Venezuela election

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A United Nations official said Friday the multilateral organization will not provide any electoral assistance for Venezuela’s upcoming presidential vote, an election that has been denounced as rigged by opposition leaders and many foreign governments.

Representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and independent candidate Henri Falcon traveled this month to U.N. headquarters seeking to persuade the body to send experts for the May 20 vote.

The main opposition coalition is boycotting the election over concerns it will be rigged and called on the U.N. to reject the request. The U.N. official confirmed the decision not to send an election mission to Venezuela, without giving reasons behind the move.

“The U.N. is not providing any electoral assistance to Venezuela,” the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been sinking deeper into a political and economic crisis after global crude prices fell and the country’s state-run oil production has been spiraling downward due to mismanagement under nearly two decades of socialist rule.

The hand-picked successor to the late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro is running for a second six-year term and has drawn condemnation abroad and at home for his tactics.

Officials loyal to Maduro have banned the largest opposition parties from participating and the most popular opposition candidates are imprisoned or in exile.

The Trump administration has said it will reject the outcome of the election, which it says won’t be free or fair. Several Latin American leaders have pressured Maduro’s government to return to what they consider democratic rule.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told AP earlier Friday that a letter was sent to Venezuelan authorities about their request for election experts. But he would not disclose the contents.

A campaign representative for Falcon said the independent candidate was considering his next move. Falcon, a former governor, had demanded U.N. participation as a condition for his own candidacy.

The Falcon representative told AP the situation has now changed, but he stopped short of saying Falcon would drop out of the race. The official agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name.


Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer reported this story at the United Nations and AP writer Scott Smith reported from Caracas, Venezuela. AP writer Fabiola Sanchez contributed to this story.