CARACAS – The head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, said on Thursday that urging people not to vote was illegal.
“I should remind everyone that encouraging people not to vote is prohibited by law,” Lucena said during a press conference at the CNE headquarters in Caracas.
Several weeks ago, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), which is the main opposition coalition, decided not to present a candidate for the May 20 presidential elections, arguing that there was an absence of conditions for a fair and transparent process.
Since then, the MUD has called on Venezuelans to boycott the vote to avoid “legitimating” the election, in which incumbent President Nicolas Maduro is seeking another term.
Lucena said that the main points of the agreement negotiated in Santo Domingo between the government and part of the opposition were being met.
This agreement was rejected by the MUD, which considered that it was insufficient to ensure fair and equitable elections.
Lucena also requested a “balanced” media coverage of the campaigns.
“We will send all public and private media companies a statement ... reminding them that the law requires them to guarantee a balanced coverage of the campaigns,” she said.
Lucena added that, during the campaigns, which officially begin on April 22, each candidate will have 4 minutes per day on television and 3 minutes on the radio” to present their proposals.
Challenging Maduro are former state Gov. Henri Falcon, Protestant pastor Javier Bertucci, businessman Luis Alejandro Ratti, and engineer Reinaldo Quijada.