Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that some of the main opposition parties will not be allowed to run in next year’s presidential election.
Speaking to supporters and journalists after voting in mayoral elections, Maduro said political parties that did not participate in Sunday’s elections, or called for a boycott, would be denied entry in the 2018 election.
“The other parties, Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia, have disappeared from the Venezuelan political map and today disappear totally,” he said. “Parties that did not participate today and have called for voters to participate in a boycott cannot participate anymore (in elections).”
“That is the criteria that the National Constituent Assembly had put forward, constitutionally and legally,” he said. “And I, as chief of state, support them.”
The Venezuelan National Electoral Commission has not yet commented on Maduro’s statements.
Presidential elections are supposed to take place in the second half of 2018, though that timeline could change.
Some of the opposition parties did not put forward candidates in Sunday’s election and called for voters to boycott the polls.
The opposition parties say electoral fraud occurred in last October’s gubernatorial election, won mostly by Maduro supporters. The opposition parties alleged irregularities in the polling process before, during and after election day, and committed not to take part in any further elections until a new electoral commission is named.
Sunday’s elections were the third in 2017. In addition to the October election, Venezuelans also voted in July to choose new assembly leaders.
More than 120 people were killed in months of protest leading up to that vote, the Venezuelan attorney general’s office said.
The vote allowed Maduro to establish a new institution called the Constituent Assembly, which was stacked with his supporters. It replaced the National Assembly, which had been controlled by Maduro’s opponents.
The new Constituent Assembly gave Maduro’s allies the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.
In wake of the election, London-based Smartmatic – which provided the voting technology – said turnout figures were manipulated.
The US Treasury Department called the July election “illegitimate” and slapped new sanctions on Maduro. In September, the Trump administration included Venezuela in its travel ban.
Opposition leaders did not immediately respond to Maduro’s statement on Sunday.
Last month, one of Maduro’s major opponents, former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, fled to Spain. He’d been under house arrest after Maduro accused him of involvement in a plot to overthrow the government.
Venezuela is facing several crises. Skyrocketing inflation has created extreme shortages of food, medicine and other essentials. The International Monetary Fund predicts that inflation in Venezuela will hit 650% this year and 2,300% in 2018.
Journalist Stefano Pozzebon contributed to this report.