Venezuela’s former president Nicolas Maduro has dismissed calls for a new presidential election. His comments come just days after the European Union and others called for new elections in the next few weeks.
Nicolas Maduro insists that he is the president since he won the presidential election last year. He says the election, which was supposed to take place in December 2018 but was moved up to early 2018, was legitimate.
Last year’s presidential election left many doubts since the results were much higher than what was predicted. Maduro easily won that election, despite having a low approval rating. Most of the opposition decided to boycott the election, which had many new candidates.
Maduro’s term ended earlier this month but he was sworn in for the second weeks ago. Several countries, including Colombia, had warned that he would not be recognized as president. Juan Guaido, who took over as President of the National Assembly earlier this month, said he would step in as interim president on January 23. He confirmed it on that day and several countries, including the US, posted tweets saying he would be recognized as interim president.
Mr. Maduro refuses to have a presidential election and instead said during an interview with a Russian news agency that he is prepared to sit down with the opposition. The government and opposition have previously held talks but no agreements have been reached. Many see his comments and requests for dialogue as a way to buy time and cool the situation down.
Mr. Maduro says a new election would have to take place in 2025, the year in which his term ends. He added that he would support early parliamentary elections.
The US and others have called for a presidential election in the next few weeks. The European Union gave them seven days for a new election, warning that if it does not take place then Guaido would now be recognized as the new president.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court received a request from the chief prosecutor to prevent Guaido from leaving the country and freeze his assets. The request was approved by the Supreme Court shortly after. The decision came a day after the US announced sanctions against oil company PDVSA. The sanctions freeze assets in the US as well as money that the country will get for oil sales.
US President Donald Trump has been asked about Venezuela’s situation and he has responded by saying that all options are on the table. Maduro and supporters have responded to the rumors of a military intervention by appearing in military training exercises with high ranking officials.
The rumors only got stronger after reporters spotted what US National Security Adviser John Bolton had written on his notepad. The notepad had two sentences, including one with the words ”5,000 troops to Colombia”.
Guaido called for a new protest today and another in a few days. The recent protests have turned violent, with security forces firing at protesters. More than 30 people have lost their lives in the protests, which began in the Cotiza area after a group of national guards called for a government change.
Venezuela’s record inflation is estimated to hit ten million percent by the end of the year. The situation could get even worse as the asset freezes from the PDVSA sanctions could impact the population. The South American nation heavily relies on oil sales for the import of food and medicines.