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  • Supporters of Venezuelan evangelical pastor and presidential pre-candidate Javier Bertucci shout as he leaves after a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, February 21, 2018.

    Supporters of Venezuelan evangelical pastor and presidential pre-candidate Javier Bertucci shout as he leaves after a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, February 21, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 February 2018

Some of the parties propose a unified candidate while others say they are boycotting the April 22 presidential elections.

Internal conflicts among parties of Venezuela's Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, have once again come to the fore, with different leaders taking contradictory positions regarding the upcoming electoral process.

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On Tuesday, Pedro Pablo Fernandez, head of the Independent Electoral Policy Organization Committee (Copei), said his party would support a unified candidacy for the April 22 presidential elections in Venezuela.

“We want to tell the national political leadership, the whole society, that we will face this government and will defeat it on April 22. We're the majority and abstention is a path that leads us nowhere,” said Fernandez during a press conference.

He said the opposition has lost its place in the political life because of their decision to boycott electoral process and go to the streets instead in an attempt to force President Nicolas Maduro out of office, leading to violent protests in the country.

“We left the electoral path because of an unexplainable reason and we told people we would be on the streets until Maduro quits... The way should have been governor and mayor elections and then we would have won all governor and mayor offices,” said Fernandez.

“Every time the opposition has played abstentionism, we have lost.”

Leaders from the Progressive Advance (AP), Solutions Movement, Red Flag and Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) were also present in the press conference and said they would support the unified candidate proposal.

MAS President Segundo Melendez urged the Venezuelan citizens to take part in the elections, saying that if they all call for participation “we are sure that a majoritarian current will emerge.” He also said that boycotting the elections would be a “triumph of anti-politics.”

Meanwhile, the Justice First (PJ) party announced they would not take part in the next presidential elections, claiming it has been “rigged."

The Popular Will (VP) and A New Time (UNT) parties have also announced they will not take part in the process, drawing criticisms from some opposition leaders.

“Popular Will said they wouldn't take part, and then Justice First did the same. All at different times, which shows there has been no unity,” said Claudio Fermin, a former member of the Democratic Action (AD) party.

Fermin also says there are sectors of the opposition that uphold the path of violence instead of discussing the possibility of a unified candidate.

Two independent evangelical pastors have also announced they will run for president.

Javier Bertucci is the leader of the Maranatha Pentecostal Church and expressed his intentions for office on Sunday, saying he would “bring Jesus” to Venezuela.

It is not known if he will be able to participate, given criminal charges for smuggling and operation of tax havens.

Luis Alejandro Ratti, also a preacher and a former head of the Hugo Chavez Bolivarian Front, announced his intentions on Monday, promising he would “represent the people with chivalry, bravery, and without fear, guaranteeing that they are going to have a different path than the last twenty years.”

None of the preachers seem to have the support of any party and will most likely run as independent candidates.

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