The Venezuelan opposition’s campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro has been thrown into disarray with elections officials’ decision to suspend a recall drive against the socialist leader a week before it was to start. In a related move, a court appeared to issue a ruling Friday blocking key opposition leaders from leaving the country, AP reports:
With the latest actions, the government has effectively halted the effort to stage a recall effort that polls suggest Maduro would have lost by a wide margin. The ruling is particularly dramatic because it comes just days before critics of the socialist administration were to start gathering the one-fifth of voters’ signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot.
“This is a big deal and reveals that the government was fearful of what could happen in the three-day signature collection period. They have effectively postponed the recall referendum indefinitely. This measure makes it difficult to think of Venezuela as a democracy,” said David Smilde, a Venezuela expert at the Washington Office on Latin America.
The opposition blasted the decision as unconstitutional.
“The government is pushing toward a very dangerous scenario,” former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Twitter. RTWT