VENEZUELA’S newly elected opposition state governors boycotted their swearing-in on Wednesday before the national constituent assembly.
All five Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) governors elected last Sunday refused to pledge to uphold the constitution before the assembly in Caracas, rather than the parliament.
Antonio Barrera Sira (governor-elect of Anzoategui), Raman Guevara (Merida), Alfredo Diaz (Nueva Esparta), Laidy Gomez (Tachira) and Juan Pablo Guanipa (Zulia) “will only pledge before God and their respective legislative councils,” the Mud coalition insisted.
Four of the five are from the moderate Democratic Action party, whose leader Henry Ramos distanced himself on Tuesday from allegations that the government had committed electoral fraud.
The Mud boycotted the July 31 election to the constituent assembly, claiming it was intended to usurp the powers of the parliament that the opposition won control of in December 2015.
That election marked the end of four months of opposition riots aimed at regime change that left 124 dead.
Despite opposition from hardline parties in the coalition, the Mud stood candidates for the October 15 vote, which saw the ruling Socialists win 18 of 23 state governorships.
Mud deputy parliamentary speaker Freddy Guevara, acting leader of the extremist Popular Will party, admitted that the defeat should prompt “a review and self-critique.”
Mr Guevara reiterated the fraud claims, blaming the National Electoral Council for including on the ballot papers Mud candidates who had been eliminated in cross-party primaries and alleging that thousands of people eligible to vote were not able to do so because polling stations had been moved.
But a report by international observers, released by the electoral council, justified the relocations in light of security threats in opposition-held areas — where rioters burned ballot papers during the July 31 election.