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Venezuela accuses US of links with election boycott
www.chinaview.cn 2005-12-01 15:11:48

    CARACAS, Nov. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Venezuela accused the US government on Wednesday of trying to destabilize the country by supporting an opposition boycott of the congressional elections scheduled for Sunday.

    "We're headed toward an electoral strike of a subversive character. We have sufficient intelligence and enough information suggesting that behind the card of not participating there are aims of destabilizing the country," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said.

    "Behind it all, the US Embassy has been very active, extremely active," said Rangel who accused the US Embassy here of links with moves by several opposition parties to pull out of Sunday's elections.

    He said the United States has been repeatedly trying to interfere in Venezuela's affairs and sabotage President Hugo Chavez's government.

    But US Embassy spokesman Brian Penn denied the accusation.

    "We do not have anything to do with any of the actions of the political parties," Penn said.

    According to Jorge Rodriguez, head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, five opposition parties had officially withdrawn from the voting on Sunday.

    Parties boycotting the election include the Democratic Action, the largest opposition party with 23 seats in the parliament, and the First Justice, which made its announcement on Wednesday.

    But Rangel said the election date "won't be moved even one minute," and called the boycotting politicians "coup-plotters and terrorists."

    "They're withdrawing now because they don't have votes," Rangelsaid.

    Venezuelan President Chavez has long been an ally of Cuba and one of Washington's fiercest critics.

    Polls showed that Chavez is Venezuela's most popular leader and the opposition boycott could hand lawmakers supporting him the majority.

    Shortly after Chavez was elected, Venezuelans voted in 1999 to approve a new constitution that lengthened the presidential term from five to six years and allowed standing presidents to run for one re-election.

    While supporters praise his reforms for combating years of corruption and neglect of the poor, critics say Chavez has eroded democracy by controlling the courts and electoral authorities. Enditem

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