Chavez brother renounces governorship in vote dispute

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Chavez brother renounces governorship in vote dispute
© THOMAS COEX In this picture taken on November 14, 2008, Argenis Chavez, (R) brother of late president Hugo Chavez, can be seen with his brother Adan Chavez (L) during an electoral meeting in the state of Barinas in southwestern Venezuela, long a stronghold of the party

The older brother of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on Tuesday renounced the governorship of western Barinas state, a stronghold of the family, after losing reelection to an opposition candidate who was subsequently disqualified.

Argenis Chavez, 63, had lost the November 21 vote to Freddy Superlano, receiving 37.21 percent of ballots cast compared to his rival’s 37.6 percent according to projections of the CNE election body.

But on Monday, Venezuela’s highest court annulled the victory of Superlano, an ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido who is recognized by the United States and some 50 other governments as Venezuela’s true president over incumbent Nicolas Maduro, whose 2018 re-election is disputed.

Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 19 gubernatorial races in the November 21 vote — the first in which the opposition participated since 2017.

Barinas was alone among Venezuela’s 23 states not to have its election outcome confirmed by election authorities.

The court, accused of government bias by the opposition, ruled Monday in favor of the country’s public finances watchdog which had sought a declaration of Superlano’s “ineligibility” as an election candidate.

It said he should be disqualified due to “administrative and criminal investigations” into accusations of corruption.

The court ordered new elections to be held on January 9, without Superlano, in the state governed by the Chavez family and the PSUV since 1998.

The ex-president’s father, Hugo de los Reyes Chavez was governor from 1998 to 2008 followed by Hugo Chavez’s brother Adan — now Venezuela’s ambassador to Cuba — and then Argenis from 2017.

Announcing his resignation Tuesday, Chavez did not specify whether he will contest the January 9 election.

On Sunday, Maduro lashed out at EU observers, whom he called “enemies” and “spies”, for saying the November 21 election for governors and mayors had been marred by irregularities.

The EU mission had noted a “lack of adherence to the rule of law” and expressed doubts over the “equality of conditions, the balance and the transparency of the elections.”

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