The Supreme Justice Tribunal of Venezuela said on Monday that the results of this month’s opposition presidential primary would not be enforced. This is despite an agreement between the government and the opposition that lets each side pick its own candidate.
The decision could make the US angry, since they lifted some sanctions on the oil and gas industry and bond trading this month in return for the election deal.
Before, the U.S. State Department said it would put sanctions back in place if President Nicolas Maduro’s government doesn’t free political prisoners and Americans who were “wrongfully detained” by the end of November and lift the bans on some opposition candidates.
The opposition sees the court as part of the government, and this decision comes after the attorney general said last week that his office is looking into the primary and people who helped organize it for election violations, financial crimes, and conspiracies.
The commission said on social media that members of the organizing committee were meeting with prosecutors on Monday to talk about the case.
The opposition and Maria Corina Machado, who won the primary, have said over and over that the vote on October 22 was open and fair.
Since the day of the vote, when more than 2.3 million people showed up to vote without any help from the government, the government has been warning about possible fraud.
Maduro’s government, which has been in power for ten years, and the opposition signed an agreement in Barbados to hold elections. The deal includes having foreign observers and letting each side choose its own candidate according to its own rules.
A spokesperson for the State Department said, “We urge Nicolas Maduro and his representatives to keep the promises they made when they signed the political roadmap agreement.” “The U.S. government will take action if Maduro and his representatives do not meet their commitments.”
The decision and the investigation were both asked for by lawmaker Jose Brito, who the court said wanted to run in the primary.
Brito is not a part of any of the groups that took part.
“Following the request of preventative protection and in consequence, all the effects of the distinct phases of the electoral process conducted by the National Primary Commission are suspended,” the tribunal stated on its site.
The panel said that the commission had to show all the papers that were used to create it, as well as records of voters, candidates, and other things.
People like Machado, who can’t hold public office because of a choice the opposition says is illegal, must also explain why they are running for office.
The decision “temporarily suspends the primary until there is a final decision from the tribunal,” as Jose Vicente Haro, a lawyer and university professor, put it. “The court’s decision is late because it was made after the primary.” They should not have agreed to the petition.
Some observers said that the opposition parties that ran candidates in the primary should just accept Machado as their unity candidate again, which would mean that the contest wouldn’t need to be decided.
This month, the opposition turned down the election officials’ offer to help them run the primary and their request to push back the vote until November. It took the authorities several months to reply to the opposition’s request for help.