Venezuela to hold presidential vote on April 22 after talks fail

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After surviving months of massive street protests a year ago, Maduro has consolidated his power by creating a new legislative super-body and sidelining opposition parties.

The 2018 elections were originally scheduled to take place in December, but the ruling socialist party is eager to hold the elections as soon as possible, sensing its current advantage over a divided and weak opposition.

Mediation talks between Venezuela's government and an opposition coalition collapsed because they failed to agree on conditions for a presidential election, the host of the meetings, Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, said on Wednesday (Feb 7). The opposition accuses President Nicolas Maduro of using to plan a second term for himself. It calls for political, social and economic cooperation between the two sides.

The head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, made the announcement that includes an election campaign between April 2nd and 19th and said that before March the electoral rolls will be known that will be used for the vote, which will include around 20 million voters. Maduro said that the opposition should "incorporate into the elections and leave behind violence".

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The early election date will only fuel criticism that Mr. Maduro, meanwhile, says opposition leaders are feckless right-wing elites who get their orders from Washington.

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.

The government has received warnings from several countries, including the United States and Colombia, that they will not recognize the results of the elections, maintaining that they will not be transparent or fair.

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On Sunday, the United States said it had not ruled out sanctions on Venezuelan oil as it turns the screw on Maduro, but is wary of hurting the country's people.

"We are beginning a series of meetings with political parties and opposition sectors to create a big national front representing the Venezuelan society, which stands firmly on its rights", he said in a statement cited by the Democratic Unity Roundtable party.

Tillerson stopped in Jamaica on his way home from South America for talks with senior officials there, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on how to manage any crisis.

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