Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has said that he is ready to seek another term in office after the pro-government constituent assembly declared that new presidential elections must be held by 30 April. Analysts described Tuesday’s announcement as an attempt by the ruling socialist party to exploit opposition disarray – and cement control before the country’s economic crisis becomes even more acute. The announcement comes after the European Union levied sanctions against seven high-ranking officials for their role in cracking down on democratic freedoms and for violently crushing anti-Maduro protests last year. “If the world wants to apply sanctions, we will apply elections,” said a defiant Diosdado Cabello, one of the sanctioned officials and vice-president of the assembly, a pro-Maduro body that has assumed extraordinary powers to run the country. “There will be revolution for a long time to come.”
“I’m a humble worker,” he told reporters. “I am ready to be a candidate if that’s what the social and political forces of the Bolivarian revolution decide.”
A former bus driver, union organizer and foreign minister, Maduro, 55, replaced Hugo Chávez as president in 2013 after the founder of Venezuela’s socialist revolution died of cancer.
However, Maduro has led Venezuela into its worst economic crisis in modern history. Venezuela now suffers from food shortages, hyperinflation, and dwindling oil production – provoking massive migration out of the country.