Venezuela bans third opposition politician from holding office

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2015 3:36 PM

CARACAS (Reuters) - - Former Venezuelan state Governor Pablo Perez said on Saturday said he had been barred from taking public office for 10 years, the third ban on an opposition politician in the last week.

The comptroller's office this week also disqualified former legislator Maria Corina Machado and ex-mayor Vicencio Scarano, both candidates in the Dec. 6 parliamentary election, from taking office in the next 12 months.

Critics says President Nicolas Maduro is seeking to clamp down on leading opposition leaders and discourage voters ahead of an election polls forecast his party will lose.

"The government and the (ruling Socialist Party) have banned me for 10 years, another attack against democratic dissidence," tweeted Perez, a former governor of the western state of Zulia, who unlike Machado and Scarano is not running for parliament.

The comptroller's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It has in the past disqualified candidates from holding public office for alleged corruption or lack of full disclosure in wealth declarations.

Disqualifying candidates has fanned fears over the fairness of this year's elections, which come as a severe economic crisis batters the "Chavismo" movement founded by late leader Hugo Chavez.

The MUD opposition coalition condemned the ban and said it was planning protests next week against what it deems "arbitrary" decisions.

Daniel Ceballos, a jailed former mayor who is also running for parliament, was similarly banned from holding public office earlier this month.

(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Alan Crosby)