Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday that leading opposition parties will be barred from taking part in next year’s presidential vote after they boycotted mayoral polls, in a move set to further consolidate his grip on power. That includes the groups of key figures who have led street protests against his rule such as Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo Lopez and others, Mr Maduro told reporters after casting his vote in the municipal polls. “That’s what the National Constituent Assembly set out,” he said, referring to a controversial Maduro-allied special powers legislature whose legitimacy has been questioned by many in the international community.
“If they don’t want elections, what are they doing? What’s the alternative? (Civil) war?” the president asked, visibly angry.
While municipal elections were under way across the country, Mr Maduro clearly had his mind on the 2018 presidential race, in which he plans to seek reelection despite an approval rating of around 30 percent.