Venezuela's Maduro says election delay to meet EU request 'impossible'

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an event with the youth of Venezuela's United Socialist Party in Caracas, Venezuela, June 22, 2020. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said it would be “impossible” to delay parliamentary elections planned for Dec. 6, after the European Union suggested pushing back the vote to meet conditions for the bloc to send an observer mission.

The EU last week said there was not enough time left for it to send observers, at Venezuela’s invitation. Maduro is eager to win international recognition for the poll, which the domestic opposition and the United States have said will likely be rigged in favor of the ruling socialist party.

“It is impossible because there is a very clear constitutional mandate,” Maduro said in a state television address. “We want to have a good relationship with the European Union, but Washington does not let them.”

Relations between Caracas and Washington have deteriorated in recent years. The U.S. government has sanctioned Venezuela’s state oil company to pressure Maduro - who it said is a dictator usurping power that rigged his 2018 re-election - to resign.

Maduro has said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to oust him in a coup to seize control of the OPEC member’s large crude oil reserves.

Maduro’s government has systematically ignored the legislature’s rulings since an opposition coalition won control of the body in late 2015.

Venezuela’s constitution requires a new vote to be held every five years. Most mainstream opposition parties have vowed to boycott the election, arguing the Maduro-friendly Supreme Court has appointed loyalists to the electoral regulator and installed shadow allies to lead top opposition parties.

Reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Christopher Cushing