BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union said on Monday it did not consider Venezuela’s parliamentary election on Sunday was free or fair and rejected the result, calling on President Nicolas Maduro to chart a path towards national reconciliation.
“The results cannot be recognised by the European Union,” the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told a news conference, reading out a joint statement by EU foreign ministers who endorsed a formal position rejecting the vote’s outcome.
Venezuela’s elections council said that 67.6% of the 5.2 million votes cast in Sunday’s election went to an alliance of parties that backs Maduro, but that only 31% of eligible voters participated.
“The European Union (foreign) ministers unanimously agreed on an assessment that says that this election failed to comply with the minimum international standards, they failed to mobilise the Venezuelan people to participate,” Borrell said.
In their statement, released after Borrell’s news conference, EU ministers called for “credible, inclusive and transparent presidential and legislative elections.”
The Venezuelan opposition won congress in a landslide in 2015. Sunday’s result allows Maduro to take control of the only national institution he did not already control. The United States and dozens of other countries accuse Maduro of imposing a dictatorship.
Borrell declined to say if the EU would continue to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido - who is recognised as by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president - after Jan. 5, when the current parliamentary period ends. Guaido is currently head of the parliament but is set to lose his seat.
Reporting by Robin Emmott, editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Timothy Heritage
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