Venezuela pres. rejects opposition ‘ultimatums’

Venezuela pres. rejects opposition ‘ultimatums’

Fri Nov 4, 2016 8:18AM

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected a deadline set by the opposition to possibly quit talks and return to street protests if its conditions are not met.

A coalition of opposition groups had been drawing people into the street for protests after authorities quashed its drive for a recall referendum against Maduro last month.

But it suspended street action when Vatican-backed talks began on Sunday. The opposition coalition has warned, however, that on November 11, it would quit the talks with the government if Maduro failed to meet its demands by then.

Speaking on Thursday, the Venezuelan president criticized the deadline, saying “One cannot try to give the talks, peace, an ultimatum.”

“They are creating false expectations,” Maduro said. “Nobody should leave the table, nor set an ultimatum.”

The opposition has demanded the revival of the referendum and early presidential elections. It has also demanded the release of political prisoners in the country.

“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 opposition legislative leader Julio Borges on Tuesday.

“Otherwise, we will walk away from the negotiating table and continue with our struggle,” he added, referring to the street protests.

Borges said that the opposition would also reopen an impeachment process against Maduro, which had been suspended on Wednesday, if the deadline is not met.

The National Assembly, which is in control of the opposition, had voted last week to impeach Maduro over abandoning his “responsibilities.”

Maduro has described the trial as a “parliamentary coup” attempt against him.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital to support the president in the capital, Caracas.

The pro-government rallies were held on Thursday, which also saw hundreds of others marching in the capital and elsewhere against the president.

Such rallies have been a recurrent scene on Venezuelan streets for several months now. The country faces an acute economic crisis. Shortages of basic goods have been so intense that people walk across the border into neighboring Colombia to buy their commodities from time to time.

Maduro and his socialist policies have been blamed for the crisis, and he faces increasingly tough opposition as the head of the Venezuelan state.

The opposition was attempting to call a recall referendum against Maduro under the Venezuelan constitution, but several courts blocked that bid.

The president had formerly accused the opposition of having launched a US-backed “economic war” against the oil-reach country in an attempt to trigger a coup d’état.

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