United Nations, Mar 24 (AP) A United Nations official said today that the multilateral organisation will not provide any electoral assistance for Venezuela’s upcoming presidential vote, an election that has been denounced as rigged by opposition leaders and many foreign governments.

Representatives of President Nicolas Maduro and independent candidate Henri Falcon travelled this month to the UN headquarters to try and persuade it to send experts to be present for the May 20 vote.

The main opposition coalition is boycotting the election over concerns it will be rigged and has called on the UN to reject the request. The UN official confirmed the decision not to send an election mission to Venezuela, without giving reasons behind the move.

“The UN is not providing any electoral assistance to Venezuela,” the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been sinking deeper into a political and economic crisis after global crude prices fell and the country’s state-run oil production has been spiralling downward due to mismanagement under nearly two decades of socialist rule.

The hand-picked successor to the late-President Hugo Chavez, Maduro is seeking a second six-year term.

The Trump administration has said it will reject the outcome of the election it says won’t be free or fair, and several Latin American leaders have pressured Maduro’s government to return to what they consider democratic rule.

Officials loyal to Maduro have banned the largest opposition parties from participating and the most popular opposition candidates are imprisoned or in exile.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told The Associated Press earlier Friday that a letter was sent to Venezuelan authorities about their request. He would not disclose the contents.

A campaign representative for Falcon said the independent candidate is considering his next move. Falcon, a former governor, had demanded the UN’s participation as a condition for his own candidacy.

“The scenario has changed,” the Falcon representative told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity. He stopped short of saying that Falcon will drop out of the race. (AP) CK 03240202

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.