The vice president of Venezuela’s electoral council resigned on Thursday over personal reasons. The decision comes just four months before the country holds its parliamentary elections.
Rafael Simon Jimenez said on Thursday that he was stepping down from his positions right away. Jimenez and several others were designated as part of the electoral council on June 12. The positions were chosen by the TSJ body, which the opposition accuses of being in favor of the government and used as a tool to make decisions.
The designation of the members on June 12 was heavily criticized by the opposition. The National Assembly said at the time that the move was illegal. The opposition has announced that it will be boycotting the elections.
Opposition Currently Holds Most Seats
The most recent parliamentary elections were held in late 2015. At the time, the opposition had one of its biggest victories, taking the majority of the seats. The win saw controversy as the government and opposition were in a dispute over some of the candidates and results. The opposition has held the majority of the seats ever since. But the government later came up with a constituent assembly.
The move by the government has brought sanctions from the international community. In recent years, the US has announced sanctions against some of the members of the electoral council. The sanctions include asset freezes and removal of visas.
Experts say the government could take control of the National Assembly once again since the opposition plans to skip the elections, which are scheduled for December 6.
Candidate for the Upcoming Elections?
Jimenez told the AFP that he had been thinking about it for a long time. He said through a phone interview that he had found that his opinions bothered and created a reaction from the government and some times the opposition.
There were rumors that he was stepping down to join the race as one of the candidates. But he said it was not what motivated him to step down. He didn’t rule out the idea though, saying he first needs to have someone to help him sign up. He said he does not have any offers at the time but confirmed he is willing to consider it if one comes up.
Not the First Time
The opposition has already skipped another election that led to a victory for the government. In 2018, the government moved up and held a presidential election in which Maduro won by a large margin. The opposition and the international community did not recognize Maduro’s victory since the election did not feature major opposition candidates such as Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez.
In early 2019, the opposition saw Juan Guaido step in as interim president. Guaido stepped in after saying that Maduro’s term had ended since the elections held the year before were not recognized. Guaido is recognized by more than 40 countries. Maduro has said he plans to remain in power until at least 2025, the year in which his current term ends.