Brady hits back at criticism over Venezuelan election observer role

August 14, 2017

Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady has refuted accusations of being complicit in vote-rigging after he acted as an observer to the recent disputed election in Venezuela.

Mr Brady was invited by the Venezuelan government to be an observer at the election which took place on Sunday 6th August.  He was part of a delegation invited to oversee the vote in the absence of internationally recognised independent observers.

The vote for a new assembly in the South American country has been branded corrupt around the world and dismissed as a sham by the USA, after the poll gave president Nicolás Maduro powers to abolish Venezuela’s parliament and rewrite the constitution.

Last week, Smartmatic, the voting machine provider, said turnout figures for the election had been manipulated, with at least one million less votes cast than claimed by the government.

Anti-government demonstrations over the last few months have left 120 dead and at least 10 people were killed during violent clashes and demonstrations which took place during the election.

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien, condemned Sinn Féin’s involvement in the vote, outlining how the Maduro-led regime in the South American country has caused a dramatic plunge in living standards, food shortages, triple-digit inflation, high crime and “endemic corruption at all levels of the state.”

He said Sinn Féin has continually expressed its support for the “disastrous autocratic administration” through motions at its Ard Fhéis in both 2014 and 2015 and he accused the party of “actively assisting the Venezuelan dictator attain sweeping powers by trying to cover up fraudulent elections such as Sunday’s.”

Calling for the party to recant their support, he urged them to “join the growing number of voices who unreservedly condemn those who are pursuing an anti-democratic agenda in Venezuela.”

Sinn Fein’s Mickey Brady refuted the accusations however, branding Mr O’Brien’s comments “ a disgrace.”

In a statement the Sinn Féin MP said: “I was in Venezuela for four days and I and other international observers went to a number of voting centres.

“The electronic voting system was very efficient and the election system was fair and equitable.

“International reports on the election made me think I was in a different place. The election was fair and turnout was substantial. I thought that the process was fair and transparent.”