Top Venezuela court excludes opposition from presidential vote

Caracas - Venezuela's top court on Thursday delayed the process to re-enrol political parties by six months - a move that will exclude the main opposition coalition from the upcoming presidential election.

"The National Electoral Council is ordered to exclude the 'Democratic Union Roundtable' (MUD) in the convened process of renewal," said a ruling of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), which authorises the country's electoral authority to reschedule party re-registration for six months.

The move comes days after the ruling Constituent Assembly - an all-powerful body loyal to President Nicolas Maduro - said the country's presidential vote will take place before April 30, pulling forward a poll normally held in December.

READ: EU bans arms sales to Venezuela, takes aim at officials

The National Electoral Council - which the opposition holds is pro-Maduro - had scheduled renewals of the MUD and the main parties that comprise it to occur over the weekend.

The parties had withdrawn from last December's municipal elections after denouncing fraud in the regional vote held in October.

Both elections tipped in favour of Maduro's ruling party.

In order to re-register, the parties were to present signatures of people representing 0.5% of those in the electoral register in at least 12 states. Some 19 million people are registered to vote nationwide.

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