Venezuela in plea to UN to send observers for election

Venezuelan opposition candidate Henri Falcon joined the country's ambassador in a meeting requesting that United Nations observers monitor upcoming presidential polls

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.