Venezuela on Tuesday installed a new national electoral council that has a majority favorable to President Nicolás Maduro's government, setting up potentially fresh barriers to opposition participation in upcoming votes.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) is one of the main obstacles in negotiations between Maduro's government and the opposition ahead of regional elections to be held before the end of the year. Many observers say the opposition will likely boycott those elections, as well.
Three of the five new members of the new CNE, elected Tuesday by the National Assembly, also controlled by Maduro's party, are considered followers of the leftist leader's mentor Hugo Chávez. The other two members are close to the opposition.
The assembly confirmed the members with two-thirds voting in favour. Maduro's government and its allies control 256 of the 277 seats in the National Assembly after their landslide victory in December 2020.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó had expressed his disapproval before the assembly vote, saying: "The result will be the same as in 2018 and 2020: non-recognition and refusal," referring to the presidential and legislative elections.
Guaidó, then the speaker of the National Assembly, declared himself acting president of Venezuela in January 2019, after Maduro was reelected in a 2018 vote deemed fraudulent.
More than 50 countries, including the United States, have backed Guaidó's claim.
In 2020, Maduro's party and its allies benefitted from the opposition boycott of the legislative elections and regained control of the assembly, which previously had been the only government body not under their control.
The election results were not recognized by the European Union, the United States nor several Latin American countries.
The former assembly majority, which backs Guaidó, asked the international community in a statement issued Tuesday to maintain "its position on the invalidity of the electoral processes organized in Venezuela by an unconstitutionally appointed CNE."
The Organisation of American States (OAS) decried the appointments in a statement Tuesday.
"Faced with the appointment in Venezuela of a new National Electoral Council by an illegitimate national Assembly, the OAS General Secretariat rejects and condemns these actions by the dictatorship," said the secretariat of the regional group.