(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles on Friday was banned from holding political office for 15 years, a move that could galvanize protests against the leftist government and upend a presidential election in 2018.
Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate and current governor of Miranda state, was seen as the opposition's best hope to defeat President Nicolas Maduro.
The national comptroller banned him from office due to "administrative irregularities" including breaking contracting laws and improper management of donations from the British and Polish embassies, according to a copy of the ban.
The punishment deals a blow to the opposition after stepped-up protests this week and accusations that Maduro, the unpopular handpicked successor of the late Hugo Chavez, was leading the country to dictatorship and cracking down on dissent.