Top court in Venezuela upholds ban on Chavez foe

Venzuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez delivers a speech in Caracas on September 24, 2010.

Story highlights

  • Country's Supreme Court rejects international ruling
  • Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez will not be allowed to hold office
  • The government accuses him of corruption, though he hasn't been convicted
  • Lopez was considered leading contender for presidency
Venezuela's Supreme Court rejected a ruling from an international human rights court Monday, all but assuring opposition candidate Leopoldo Lopez will not challenge President Hugo Chavez in next year's election.
The country's top court ruled against the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which in September came out in support of Lopez's fight to run for office.
Chavez's government accused Lopez of corruption during his tenure as the mayor of the municipality of Chacao, and through an administrative procedure barred him in 2008 from running for public office for six years.
Lopez argued he had been unjustly banned, and the international court agreed.
Venezuela, however, will not abide by the ruling. The Supreme Court released a statement Monday calling it "unfeasible."
Curiously, the court also stressed that the ban against Lopez is "administrative," and "not political." So in theory he could still compete in elections, though he would not be allowed to hold office.
Lopez had been considered one of the top contenders to challenge Chavez in next year's presidential election.
At issue are two accusations made against him -- one in 1998 when he was an analyst for the state-run PDVSA oil company, and another in 2002 for alleged budgetary modifications while he was mayor. Lopez was never convicted of any crimes.
He isn't the only one barred from competing in Venezuelan elections. In the run-up to the pivotal 2008 elections, hundreds of politicians were prevented from running, the vast majority from parties opposed to Chavez.
Lopez, in 2008, was running for mayor of Caracas, the South American nation's capital.
Chavez has ruled Venezuela for more than 12 years. Despite his ongoing battle with cancer, the charismatic president has said he plans to seek re-election.