Puebla, Mexico, November 4, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro urged his country’s political opposition to continue negotiations Thursday, after the right-wing set a series of preconditions on the next round of talks.
Dialogue between the two sides of Venezuela’s political divide is set to resume by November 11. However, on Thursday the main opposition coalition, the MUD, threatened to leave the table if Maduro doesn’t agree to early elections.
The demand was part of a series of preconditions issued by the opposition for resuming talks. Other key prerequisites included the release of so-called “political prisoners”, along with an overhaul of the country’s electoral authority.
Earlier this week, the Venezuelan government released seven jailed opposition militants in a goodwill gesture.
The MUD has, however, branded the move insufficient, demanding the government release over 100 more activists, whom it considers “political prisoners”. Government supporters, for their part, point out that these individuals have been convicted of violent crimes linked to the attempted overthrow of President Maduro.
The right-wing opposition coalition has also demanded that new presidential election take place in the first quarter of 2017.
The next presidential elections aren’t officially scheduled until 2018 at the earliest.
Maduro responded Thursday night by accusing the MUD of “creating false expectations”.
“Nobody should leave the table, or set an ultimatum,” he said.
“There’s just no excuse to leave the table; what’s the alternative to dialogue? Violence, a coup, war?” he said.
The comments were welcomed by Maduro’s supporters, who rallied outside the presidential palace in Caracas.
Meanwhile, protesters in the opposition stronghold of San Cristobal clashed with police.
Maduro and the MUD held negotiations aimed at resolving Venezuela’s political crisis over the weekend. The talks are being mediated by the Vatican, amid rising tensions in the South American country. While Maduro has repeatedly warned of the risk of a right-wing coup in recent months, the MUD has accused the president of usurping the power of the National Assembly. The MUD holds a majority in the assembly, though all of its major pieces of legislation have been blocked by the Supreme Court.
The MUD itself is already facing internal divisions over its negotiations with Maduro. Over half of the parties in the coalition have boycotted talks.