CARACAS, VENEZUELA - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday said the opposition would not recognize a “false” electoral body named by the government-friendly supreme court, while his allies pledged to extend the term of the current legislature.
An extension past the January 2021 end date would allow Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela’s rightful leader due to his position as president of the opposition-held National Assembly, to remain in the role even if the opposition boycotts parliamentary elections due by the end of the year.
“We do not recognize any false national electoral council,” Guaido told reporters during a virtual news conference.
Venezuela’s constitution grants the power to appoint members of the national electoral council to congress, but the Supreme Court -- widely viewed as loyal to President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government -- on Friday named its own board after ruling the legislature had failed to do so.
Opposition leaders denounced the move as an attempt to rig the election, and some prominent Guaido allies said in response the current legislature should extend its term.
“The current legitimate National Assembly will continue as long as no valid constitutional electoral process to substitute it has been held,” Henry Ramos, a senior lawmaker from the large Democratic Action block, wrote on Twitter on Friday night.
Asked about a possible extension of the legislature’s term, Guaido said his priority was ousting Maduro before the end of the year, and that the National Assembly would move forward with naming its own electoral rectors.
“For us, 2021 is very far away,” he said.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
The court’s decision to name its own council has raised the likelihood that opposition parties would boycott the parliamentary election as they did Maduro’s reelection in 2018.