Venezuela: Presidential elections date set, dialogue stalls

Incumbent President Nicolas Maduro has been named the official candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Venezuela's presidential elections have been set for April 22 as talks between the government and opposition aimed at promoting peace and unity appeared to crumble.

The head of Venezuela's electoral authority, Tibisay Lucena, announced the date on February 7.

The news follows last week's confirmation that incumbent President Nicolas Maduro has been named the official candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Two opposition leaders, former President of the National Assembly Henry Ramos and ex-governor of Lara state Henri Falcon, have also announced presidential aspirations.

Opponents say the government is rigging the election in advance by barring Maduro's strongest rivals – opposition politicians Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles.

That same day, Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, who was brokering the talks, announced that dialogue between the government and the right-wing opposition had entered a stage of indefinite recess after the opposition refused to sign a draft agreement aimed at promoting peace and unity between the two parties.

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 February 6 while the Venezuelan government did come to the meeting with the intention of signing the document in the presence of international observers.

Former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero confirmed on February 7 that an agreement, which included details on electoral dates, observers and guarantees, the economic situation and a truth commission was on the table, but that the opposition delegation headed by opposition legislator Julio Borges "raised the need to provide observations," while the government was ready to sign the document.

Venezuelan government representatives have accused the United States of attempting to "sabotage" the talks, claiming that the opposition was receiving instructions from the US administration.

[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]

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