Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday called for a general election in Venezuela with foreign observers after opposition complaints of electoral fraud in last Sunday’s state elections.
The demand followed the Venezuelan oppositions’ refusal to recognize the results of regional elections that saw a landslide victory for President Nicolas Maduro’s PSUV party.
“In the midst of non-recognition of electoral results in Venezuela, the solution is: general election, foreign overseers and an independent CNE,” the Venezuelan election authority, said the Nobel peace prize laureate via Twitter.
Ante no reconocimiento de resultados electorales en Venezuela la solución es: elecciones generales, veedores extranjeros y CNE independiente
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) October 17, 2017
Maduro’s party tightens grip in Venezuela
The PSUV won the regional elections held on Sunday, securing victories in 17 of the 23 state governor’s offices in the country.
The opposition Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) has claimed that there was fraud in the election, failing to acknowledge the results and calling on the international community to exert further pressure on the Maduro government for transparency.
“We refuse to recognize the results given by the National Electoral Council. [The government] know they are not the majority, and the country and the Venezuelan people know it, too,” said the MUD.
The United States responded angrily in the aftermath of the vote with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert condemning “the lack of free and fair elections.”
She alleged there had been “last-minute changes to polling station locations without public notice; manipulation of ballot layouts; and limited availability of voting machines in opposition neighborhoods,” reported BBC news.
The National Electoral Council announced the election results but has since been accused of pro-government bias.
Maduro for his part hailed the victory claiming it to be proof that Venezuela has “the best electoral system in the world.”
Trump echoes Colombia’s call for diplomatic pressure on Venezuela
Talks amid tensions
Santos has persistently urged for a negotiated solution to solve the social and economic crisis in Venezuela where more than 100 people have died after month of protests and many more have been left without food or medical care.
Meanwhile, more than 150,000 Venezuelans and an unknown number of Colombian residents in the neighboring country have fled to Colombia to escape the dire situation.
Santos and the other Latin American presidents have been trying to step up diplomatic pressure on their Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro for months.
The Latin leaders met with US President Trump last month when it was agreed to step up collective international pressure to restore democracy to Venezuela.
Should the allegations of election fraud be proven it would be a clear indication that external diplomatic pressure is not having the desired effect on the Maduro regime.