Venezuela opposition scraps Maduro trial, but presses demands

Venezuela opposition scraps Maduro trial, but presses demands

Wed Nov 2, 2016 8:53AM

Venezuela’s opposition has postponed a symbolic trial of President Nicolas Maduro in parliament, but threatened to quit reconciliation talks with the government if Caracas fails to meet its demands.

During a session on Tuesday, Julio Borges, the speaker of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, said the parliamentary proceedings had been suspended after Caracas agreed to release four opposition activists from prison.

The assembly had planned to bring Maduro on trial on the same day for what it described as abandoning his “responsibilities.”

The opposition also agreed to delay an anti-Maduro protest rally planned for Thursday.

It wants the government to release around 100 jailed opposition members and bring forward the next presidential election slated for late 2018.

Borges said anti-government forces would reopen Maduro’s political trial and resume street protests if their demands were not met “in the coming days and weeks.”

“We have put these points on the table not so that they can be addressed in months but rather in the coming days and weeks,” said Borges, warning, “Otherwise, we will walk away from the negotiating table and continue with our struggle.”

On Sunday, Maduro met with opposition leaders to start a process of national dialogue aimed at ending Venezuela’s political crisis and economic woes.

During the internationally-mediated talks, the two sides agreed on “national dialogue plenary meeting” to be followed by long-term dialogue.

The four-point agenda includes respect for the rule of law and government sovereignty, human rights and reconciliation, economic and social affairs as well as a timetable for holding elections.

Several opposition parties boycotted the negotiations despite Maduro’s pledge to remain “absolutely committed” to dialog.

Maduro’s Socialist Party lost its majority in the National Assembly during last year’s general elections due to high inflation and product shortages causing widespread dissatisfaction in the country.

The president argues that the opposition, backed by the US, has launched an economic war against the oil-producing nation.

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