Venezuela opposition demands concessions to resume talks

Iran Press TV

Iran Press TV

Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:16AM

Venezuela’s opposition says it will not return to a Vatican-brokered dialog with President Nicolas Maduro’s government unless major concessions are offered.

Head of the Venezuelan opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) Jesus Torrealba pulled out of the crisis talks earlier this month after accusing the government of failing to fulfill its promises.

The MUD is demanding that the talks result in setting a recall referendum against Maduro or that the date of the presidential election due for December 2018 be brought forward. It also seeks the release of jailed opposition leaders.

“If these demands …are not satisfied by January 13, obviously there will be no conditions to re-establish dialog,” Torrealba said at a news conference on Monday.

Maduro has said the issue of prisoner release and a referendum were never on the table as conditions for crisis negotiations. He has refused both demands while saying he is willing to engage in dialog with the opposition.

The president said on Monday that the government negotiators would be ready for the January 13 meeting come what may.

“I want to affirm to Pope Francis … my commitment to dialog, peace and the word of God,” he said at a radio show. “If not talking means Torrealba is going to take up arms and call for an intervention in Venezuela, he will never achieve it.”

The talks were launched at the end of October with the participation of a Papal envoy, South American bloc Unasur and former heads of government from Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

The dialog is aimed at resolving the economic and political crises facing the country, which is suffering from the crash of oil prices in 2014 amid severe shortages of basic supplies and soaring inflation.

While the opposition holds Maduro’s administration responsible for the economic woes, the Venezuelan leader has blamed a US-led conspiracy which has also affected several other Latin American leaders.

Analysts have warned there is a risk of unrest in Venezuela. Anti-government unrest in 2014 led to the death of over 40 people.

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