Venezuela in plea to UN to send observers for election

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela said its United Nations ambassador will formally ask the world body Tuesday to send observers to monitor controversial elections in the crisis-wracked South American country.

Opposition candidate Henri Falcon was to join the ambassador, Samuel Moncada, at the meeting in New York to seek to persuade the UN to send a delegation for the May 20 polls.

"We insist on the widest possible election observation commission," Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez told a press conference.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would need a specific mandate from the UN General Assembly or the Security Council to send observers, his spokesman said last week.

President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a second six-year term and the main opposition is boycotting the vote, claiming fraud.

Opposition parties have sent a letter to Guterres asking him not to send observers to the election, out of fears such a move would only help to lend international legitimacy to the polls.

They claim Falcon, an opposition outlier, is serving only to legitimize what is certain to be a Maduro victory.

Falcon, 56, is a member of the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, but has defied their call to boycott the May 20 vote.