Friday 18 October 2019

Opposition in change of tactics as Maduro still clings to power

Nicolas Maduro says he is the victim of a US coup attempt. Photo: Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
Nicolas Maduro says he is the victim of a US coup attempt. Photo: Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Brian Ellsworth

Venezuela's opposition is trying to convince ruling Socialist Party officials to join a transition government, shifting focus as it seeks to unseat President Nicolas Maduro, who has clung to power in the face of growing international pressure and US sanctions.

Last month, Venezuelan opposition leader and Congress chief Juan Guaido invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency after declaring Mr Maduro's re-election last year illegitimate. He swiftly received recognition from the US and Latin American powers.

In an effort to secure the backing of Venezuela's military, Mr Guaido proposed an amnesty for those who turned on Mr Maduro's government.

But defections have been minimal and top brass has declared allegiance to Mr Maduro, dimming hopes of a quick end to an economic disaster that has fuelled a regional humanitarian crisis.

Amid fears the changes have stalled, opposition leaders have begun to talk about bringing ruling Socialist Party stalwarts into a potential transition government.

"This requires a large national agreement between the country's political forces," Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the opposition-run National Assembly, said.

Mr Zambrano said any transition must include Chavismo, the left-wing movement founded by Venezuela's late leader Hugo Chavez, who picked Mr Maduro as his successor.

It was not immediately clear how actively the opposition is building bridges.

Opposition leaders say they maintain contact with government officials and military officers, but keep such talks confidential to avoid affecting those involved.

Mr Maduro says he is the victim of a US-orchestrated coup bid and has refused to resign.

Irish Independent

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