Venezuela Presidential Elections Set for April 22

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela Presidential Elections Set for April 22

Setting the date for the presidential elections was one of the points of contention the two sides sought to resolve through resumed dialogue in Santo Domingo since September, in a bid to overcome a political stalemate that has only intensified Venezuela's economic woes.

The date for the elections was announced hours after the failure of the negotiations held by representations of the Government and the opposition coalition in the Dominican Republic, with the facilitation of an global group made up of Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

With the opposition coalition barred from fielding a candidate and several top Maduro critics banned, the deeply unpopular president's opponents accuse him of rigging the snap vote before it is even held.

The president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council announced the date of the presidential election after government and opposition parties failed to come to an agreement on how to conduct the election fairly.

On Jan. 26, Maduro had pledged to be "the president of Venezuelan youth and women" after announcing his candidacy for the forthcoming elections.

Medina said Maduro had expressed "the desire to continue dialogue", but the opposition delegation "did not understand" that the signing of the final peace agreement would take place on Tuesday in front of global observers.

"We implore the government not to commit the absurd mistake of calling elections unilaterally", tweeted lawmaker and opposition delegate Julio Borges.

The opposition is split on whether to put up candidates as they say the whole process is flawed.

It is in the grips of hyperinflation, teetering on the brink of outright default, and increasingly isolated internationally. Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship and could spur further sanctions from the United States.

Mr. Maduro's government, however, has said it is prepared to withstand sanctions from the "imperialist" Trump administration.

Earlier on Thursday the United States condemned what it called Venezuela's decision to proceed with the election without guarantees to ensure it is fair.

Washington is closer to deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said earlier on Wednesday, in what would be a severe blow to the OPEC member's already ailing economy.

Numerous island nations in the region depend to some degree on cheap oil imports from Venezuela, a fact Caracas has used as a diplomatic bargaining chip.

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