Former Venezuelan National Assembly leader Julio Borges said on Thursday that any presidential elections with Nicolás Maduro still in power would have “no meaning” and a transition period must occur before any elections.
Borges, who lives in exile in Colombia after being repeatedly subjected to violent attacks by government-controlled gangs, said that for interim President Juan Guaidó to call a presidential election, Maduro would first have to be removed from power instead of personally overseeing the process.
“Elections with Maduro in power have no meaning, Maduro has to abandon power,” Borges said in an interview with Colombia’s NTN24. “To initiate a transition, with Maduro still in power, does not make sense either.”
On Wednesday, interim President Juan Guaidó’s envoy to Rome said in an interview that when he calls a free and fair election, Maduro will have the option of putting his name on the ballot. Maduro would present himself in that situation as a candidate, however, and not the head of state presiding over the election.
“Mr. Maduro is free to present himself in these elections, not as current president but as an ex-president,” Sucre said. “If his party nominates him, we will accept him. We do not want to substitute intolerance with intolerance.”
Despite the egregious crimes and human rights violations carried out by the Maduro regime, Guaidó has also considered offering amnesty to Maduro and his military accomplices, presumably allowing him or another senior regime member to participate in any upcoming elections.
Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, who now lives in exile in Spain, also suggested Maduro may be able to participate if he is not found guilty of criminal wrongdoing, comparing him to former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was prohibited from participating in Brazil’s presidential election last year after being found guilty of corruption. “It all depends on whether the same thing that happened to Lula in Brazil happens to him,” Ledezma said. Lula, once from the frontrunner in the 2018 presidential race, is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Maduro has presided over multiple fraudulent elections since succeeding Hugo Chávez in 2013. In last year’s presidential election, the Supreme Court banned all non-socialist opposition from running, while voting was heavily influenced by intimidation, ballot manipulation, and voter fraud.
Leading Venezuelan politicians are preparing for a fresh presidential election as Maduro’s grip on power continues to weaken under the pressure of international isolation, economic sanctions, and an energized opposition movement led by Guaidó. Prominent opposition leaders, including the imprisoned Popular Will leader Leopoldo López, have already indicated their intention to run in any forthcoming presidential elections.
“If we achieve a free election, Leopoldo will surely make the decision to present himself,” López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC this week. “Since his unjust imprisonment, he has developed a plan together with the best experts in each area to rescue Venezuela. He presented it to the National Assembly in December and he is ready to get going.”
Another opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado, founder of the center-right party Vente Venezuela, also told Fox Business last week that she would “absolutely” planned to run. If successful, she would become Venezuela’s first female president.