February 18, 2018

Venezuelan assembly orders elections by April 30

25 January 2018, 01:59 | Kara Nash

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores

Venezuela will hold presidential elections by the end of April, the ruling Constituent Assembly said on Tuesday, pulling forward a vote in which President Nicolas Maduro hopes to triumph over a divided opposition and win a second term. That's because Venezuela is the world's worst economic basket case today, and the country is mired in a humanitarian crisis.

Supreme Court president Maikel Moreno and the number two of Maduro's ruling socialist party Diosdado Cabello have also been added to the EU's sanctions list.

US officials told reporters in a conference call that the executive order did not target the Venezuelan people or economy and stressed that upcoming legislative elections should be held without intimidation of government opponents.

Shortly after the announcement Maduro said he would accept a nomination for re-election from his United Socialist Party.

As a result, much of the opposition may well boycott an April election.

Donald Trump Mansplains Women's March, Takes Credit For "Milestones"
The mass protests commemorate a year since the historic Women's March on January 21, 2017, a day after Trump's inauguration. The 2018 Women's March drew crowds that were reported to be well over 120,000 in NY and about 300,000 in Los Angeles .

Maduro blocked the country's main opposition parties from running in the presidential elections after they boycotted mayoral elections in December.

Should the presidential vote be perceived as fraudulent, further foreign sanctions could come, including from U.S. President Donald Trump who has made opposition to Maduro a prominent feature of his foreign policy.

"Today, tomorrow, the next day: the only real truth is that this government and its ruling clic are abhorred by the enormous majority of Venezuelans", tweeted former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by a thin margin in 2013 but is barred from competing in the upcoming race over what he says are trumped-up charges of administrative improbity as a governor. "Imperialism and the right were plotting to take over the economy", said Mr Maduro. "If our people are allowed to decide, they are out!" one opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said.

"Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of USA financial systems", White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. But the move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas just as USA relations with Cuba, a longtime US foe in Latin America and key ally to Venezuela, are set to be normalized.

"The politicians abandoned us", the masked student said.

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