Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro invited the European Union to send a delegation to observe the May 20 presidential elections during a televised speech on Thursday.
Maduro: Mutual 'Respect' Only Condition to Restore Venezuela, Spain Diplomatic Ties
"The guarantees of electoral system are whole. Many countries would want an electoral system as transparent as ours. We invite the EU high representative to send a technical mission of accompaniment and observation so that they can learn from it," Maduro said.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also extended a formal invitation to Federica Mogherini, the head of EU Foreign Affairs, Wednesday. Mogherini, however, said she was facing difficulties in sending the mission.
After Arreaza's meeting with the EU official, the European External Action Service confirmed Mogherini told Arreaza the EU expects the Venezuelan government to work towards a broad consensus that would enable "credible" elections, ensuring "the participation of all political parties."
Parts of Venezuela's right-leading opposition have decided to boycott the elections after withdrawing from several rounds of dialogue with the Venezuelan government to reach an agreement on 'democratic coexistence.' Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the mediator in those talks, criticized the opposition for backtracking and failing to sign the agreement.
In the May 20 presidential elections, one of Maduro's main rivals will be former Lara State Governor Henri Falcon, a university professor. Representatives of 15 organizations with national political aims, six national Indigenous organizations, one group of voters and several independent candidates also made the ballot.
Since elections were called, the Venezuelan government has called on international and regional bodies to observe the electoral process to verify its transparency and curtail violence leading up to and including election day.
As elections near, the Venezuelan government fears the United States and its allies will launch new attacks on the South American country. "We have elections coming and the United States' warring diplomacy towards Venezuela will be activated; they've already announced supposed oil embargoes against Venezuela," Arreaza has warned.
The United States, Spain, Argentina and Colombia are among countries declaring they will not recognize the May 20 presidential elections.
Despite the international campaign against the elections, the government will move forward as planned. "I tell Federica: in Venezuela there are elections on May 20, let's see what the EU does because the people of Venezuela will vote in massive numbers and elect the president of the republic," Maduro said during his speech.
Meanwhile, Zapatero recently confirmed his attendance, saying he has confidence in the electoral process: "I'll make sure that the May 20 electoral process meets the basic requirements in a democracy because I wouldn't be taking part in this task otherwise," he said.
"We will carry out an election, which a fraction of the opposition doesn't agree with."