CARACAS: Venezuela’s unpopular President Nicolas Maduro got the seal of approval from his ruling party Friday to stand for re-election against a weakened opposition barred from fielding a united rival candidate, reports AFP.
The snap poll is to happen sometime before the end of April, after the Constituent Assembly—a super-legislature stacked with Maduro loyalists—announced last week the vote was being brought forward from December.
The Supreme Court, which critics say systematically bows to Maduro, has barred the opposition coalition from fielding a candidate under its banner, and banned several prominent opposition figures from participating.
The opposition says the moves are designed to engineer a second term for Maduro.
The ruling Socialist Party, which Maduro leads and which is holding a congress, on Friday officially voted to make the president its candidate for the election.
“You are officially the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” the party’s deputy leader, Diosdado Cabello, told Maduro, who was decked out in the party’s red color and accompanied by his wife Cilia Flores.
Hundreds of party members yelled “Yes” as the nomination was made.
Cabello said it was “totally natural” that Maduro, 55, be given the nomination, calling him a “comrade of irreproachable revolutionary conduct.”
“We are going to win, I have no doubts of that,” Cabello said.
The election will be held against a backdrop of financial and political crisis.
The country, impoverished despite being a major oil producer, is suffering food and medicine shortages brought on by a recent period of low oil prices, declining production, and economic mismanagement.