Venezuela’s Guaido calls for greater unity after opposition’s election losses

Caracas, Nov 22 (EFE).- Venezuelan former National Assembly leader Juan Guaido on Monday stressed the need for the opposition to show greater unity ahead of future elections, making his remarks a day after regional and local balloting in which the ruling leftist PSUV party won a resounding victory.

“Of course, it’s a moment that should lead us to greater unity. To a sincere unity that re-legitimizes leaderships in Venezuela, that rebuilds a unified platform, that responds to the interests of Venezuelans,” Guaido said at a press conference in Caracas.

He said now is not the time to play the blame game but instead to show respect for Venezuelan citizens and reflect on the outcome at the ballot box, adding that “we can’t call what happened yesterday a free and fair election.”

On Monday, National Electoral Council (CNE) Chairman Pedro Calzadilla reported with 99.2 percent of votes counted that the PSUV-led Great Patriotic Pole coalition won 205 of 322 mayor’s races.

Thirteen other races have not yet been decided. The rightist opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won 59 of the mayoral contests, while a big tent opposition coalition, the Democratic Alliance, won 37.

The Great Patriotic Pole came out on top in the capitals of the state of Anzoategui, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Falcon, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Amazonas, Delta Amacuro and La Guaira.

It also won in Caracas, with former Defense Minister Carmen Melendez coming out on top with 58.9 percent of the vote.

The MUD won the capitals of two states – Cojedes and oil-rich Zulia, whose capital, Maracaibo, is Venezuela’s second-largest city – while the center-left Democratic Action captured the capital of Guarico.

The ruling party won the following states: Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Bolivar, Carabobo, Delta Amacuro, Falcon, Guarico, La Guaira, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Portuguesa, Sucre, Trujillo and Yaracuy.

The MUD won two states – Zulia, Venezuela’s most populous; and Cojedes, a traditional PSUV stronghold. The opposition centrist Fuerza Vecinal party won one state – Nueva Esparta.

Results are still pending from Barinas, late former President Hugo Chavez’s home state; and Tachira. The PSUV’s candidate had a slight lead over the MUD’s hopeful in Barinas, according to the latest tallies.

In Tachira, the PSUV’s candidate was narrowly beating out his rival from Democratic Action.

Guaido said Sunday’s elections, in which the opposition participated for the first time since 2017, were held “without pre-existing conditions.”

Sunday’s vote marked the first time in 15 years that international election monitors were deployed in Venezuela.

Asked about the talks in Mexico between Venezuela’s government and the opposition wing he leads, a process suspended after the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s, was extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, Guaido stressed the need to find solutions.

“We’re ready to reach a national salvation agreement. We’re ready to resume” the talks, he said.

Maduro said Sunday there will be “more dialogue, political understanding, coexistence and harmony, although he added that “there are no conditions” for restarting the talks with the opposition.

“We’re going to wait. It’s very serious what the US government did,” the president said of Saab’s 2020 arrest in the West African island nation of Cape Verde and extradition last month to the US. EFE


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