News ID: 238179
Published: 0356 GMT January 30, 2019

Maduro dismisses new presidential polls, ‘ready to hold talks with opposition’

Maduro dismisses new presidential polls, ‘ready to hold talks with opposition’

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday dismissed the possibility of holding new presidential polls any time soon but he supported early parliamentary elections.

"Presidential election in Venezuela has taken place, and if imperialists want new election let them wait until 2025," he said in an apparent reference to Washington in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the US-backed opposition and added he would support early parliamentary elections, the Russian state news agency reported on Wednesday.

"I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela," Maduro said.

Last week the oil-rich but economically devastated Latin American country was plunged into uncertainty when the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself "acting president," AFP reported.

The United States, a dozen Latin American countries and Canada have recognized Guaido as interim president, while China and Russia – Venezuela's two main creditors – have urged noninterference.

Maduro has been in charge since 2013 but his reelection in May was branded illegitimate by the European Union, United States and Organization of American States.

He also implied he was firmly in charge of the army whose support is crucial.

"I am carrying out my duties as commander-in-chief according to the Constitution consolidating the national Bolivarian armed forces," he said. "And the Bolivarian armed forces are demonstrating a lesson in ethics, loyalty and discipline."

Maduro also said that US President Donald Trump had ordered the government of Colombia to assassinate him.

"If something happens to me one day then Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible for everything that is happening to me," he said, adding however that he was in good hands.

"At the same time, I am protected. We have a good system of defense in place and moreover, we have more significant protection – this is protection from God who will give me a long life," Maduro added.

Russia has denounced the opposition's "usurpation of power", calling Maduro the crisis-hit country's legitimate leader.

Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice barred Guaido from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts Tuesday.

The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature "is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation" for having "caused harm to peace in the republic," high court president Maikel Moreno said.

The move came after the State Department revealed that Guaido has been handed control of Venezuela's US bank accounts.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the order last week, which was then followed on Monday by US sanctions targeting Venezuela's state oil giant PDVSA, the cash-strapped government's main source of hard currency.

"This certification will help Venezuela's legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.




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