G7 in Italy
G7 members in Italy AFP

The G7 countries criticized on Friday the Venezuelan government's decision to withdraw the invitation to the European Union to oversee its upcoming presidential elections, saying it jeopardizes the opposition's chances of a fair process.

According to a draft of the document seen by AFP, the country members express their "deep concern about the opposition's rights within the electoral process and the decision to withdraw the invitation for an electoral oversight mission from the EU."

The group, which is formed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Japan and Canada, also requested the country conduct "competitive and inclusive elections" and to "stop harassing opposition members and release all political prisoners."

The government-friendly electoral council (CNE) withdrew in May the European Union's invitation to oversee the country's presidential elections claiming it would be "immoral" to allow so given its "neocolonialist and interventionist practices" with regards to the country.

"Due to the reasons laid out, we ratify the sovereign decision to revoke the invitation extended to the EU," added Elvis Amoroso, the body's president.

The Venezuelan opposition has demanded the Maduro government reinstate the invitation, with the office of presidential candidate Edmundo González Urrutia releasing a statement saying that the "arbitrary decision" only "adds to the evidence of Maduro's fear to qualified and credible election oversight."

The document, titled "Nicolás Maduro won't avoid a popular electoral oversight," added that the decision "is another failure from Maduro to comply with the Barbados Agreements," which sought to pave the way for freer and fairer elections in the Latin American country in exchange for sanctions relief.

"To the Venezuelan people: as we have shown in the past, this is an obstacle we will overcome with the strength and unity of millions of people decided to win on July 28," added the document.

The EU, in the meantime, has lamented the decision and called the electoral body to reconsider its decision. "The Venezuelan people should be able to elect their president in credible transparent and competitive elections, backed by international oversights including the European Union, which has a long and distinguished record of independent and impartial oversight," said the bloc in a statement.

The decision adds a new layer of uncertainty over the country's electoral process, as the long-entrenched government has long conveyed its reluctance to leave power. Top opposition members have also conceded that any transition would involve negotiations with the Maduro government, regardless of the potential electoral victory.

The government recently called the opposition to sign an agreement about recognizing the election's results regardless of the outcome. "Let's go to the CNE to sign a paper in which we all commit to recognize the results. I am ready, Maduro is ready, are they?" said the president of the National Assembly.

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