CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s Supreme Court has issued decisions shaking up the leadership of two small political parties and apparently preventing them from backing opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.
Capriles condemned the court decisions on Thursday, saying that President Hugo Chavez’s government is resorting to improper maneuvers to keep the parties Podemos and PPT from supporting his candidacy. Both used to be pro-Chavez but have in recent years moved to the opposition.
Chavez’s opponents have repeatedly accused him of wielding undue influence over the judiciary and using it to go after his adversaries. Chavez has denied those accusations.
“Only those who are desperate resort to judicial tricks!,” Capriles said in one of several messages on Twitter. “Whatever they do, the majority of the foundations of those political organizations are with us.”
The Supreme Court said in a statement on its website Thursday that it had decided to recognize former pro-Chavez state governor Didalco Bolivar as the leader of Podemos, rather than established leader Ismael Garcia.
A similar ruling in the case of PPT was announced by the court on Wednesday. It voided the party’s most recent internal elections and ordered it to hold new elections within 90 days.
The decisions appear to prevent the parties from backing Capriles before a Monday deadline for parties to specify the presidential candidate they will back. Capriles and Chavez both plan to formally sign up as candidates on Sunday and Monday, respectively, as they prepare for the Oct. 1 presidential vote.
Leaders of the two small parties could not immediately be reached for comment. Podemos broke with Chavez’s government in 2007. PPT, which in Spanish stands for Fatherland For All, similarly has irked Chavez’s government by defecting from its camp.