Venezuelan candidate to run despite ruling by court

Venezuelan opposition candidate Leopoldo López says he will continue his bid for the presidency despite a Venezuelan supreme court ruling that would keep him from holding elected office until 2014.

In a televised speech Tuesday López told supporters, “I can and will be a candidate for the president of Venezuela.”

The high court said Monday that the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling last month that López’s exclusion from the presidential race was unjustified and cannot be enforced. The Venezuelan supreme court went on to say that López may run for office, but cannot serve if elected.

López accused the Venezuelan supreme court of being controlled by President Hugo Chávez.

López is the former mayor of the Chacao district in Caracas. He was expected to win the 2008 election to become mayor of all of Caracas before corruption charges were leveled against him and scores of other politicians by President Chavez’s comptroller general.

López was never brought to trial on the charges, but he and several other opposition candidates were barred from seeking office. The ban on López remains in effect until 2014.

López has called the suspension unconstitutional.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is a part of the Organization of American States. Venezuela is a member, but Chávez claims the group is a pawn of the United States.

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