Venezuela calls April 22 presidential election

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With the opposition coalition barred from fielding a candidate and several top Maduro critics banned, the deeply unpopular president's opponents accuse him of rigging the snap vote before it is even held.

Venezuela on Wednesday (Feb 7) set a presidential election for April 22 after mediation talks between the leftist government and an opposition coalition collapsed, setting the stage for the likely re-election of President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro, for his turn, noted that "if the opposition does not want to take part [in the elections] and they want to sabotage, we are going to teach them a lesson with more than 10 million votes".

The date for the elections was announced hours after the failure of the negotiations held by representations of the Government and the opposition coalition in the Dominican Republic, with the facilitation of an worldwide group made up of Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. "We're talking... of hours until we respond to the nation", he told local radio.

A few months ago, the anticipation of the presidential election was among the main demands of the Venezuelan opposition to Maduro's administration.

Maduro has also been distancing himself from his charismatic predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

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The news follows last week's confirmation that incumbent President Nicolas Maduro has been named the official candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The opposition accuses President Nicolas Maduro of using to plan a second term for himself.

The opposition said the government would not budge on issues including freedom for jailed opposition activists or humanitarian aid for hungry and ill Venezuelans.

Mr. Maduro's government, however, has said it is prepared to withstand sanctions from the "imperialist" Trump administration.

Borges, an opposition leader, said he would embark on a trip to several countries to raise awareness of the political and social crisis in Venezuela ahead of the presidential election.

The regional Latin American grouping includes Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

Earlier on Thursday the United States condemned what it called Venezuela's decision to proceed with the election without guarantees to ensure it is fair.

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