Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the US-backed opposition but ruled out early presidential elections as Caracas braced itself for fresh street protests. “I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela,” Maduro told the Russian state news agency in an interview in Caracas. 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”. The United States, a dozen Latin American countries and Canada have recognised Guaido as interim president, while China and Russia – Venezuela’s two main creditors – have urged non-interference.
In the interview with RIA Novosti, Maduro also said he would support early parliamentary elections. “It would be very good to conduct parliamentary elections at an earlier stage, it would be a good form of political discussion,” Maduro said.
At the same time he dismissed the possibility of holding a new presidential poll any time soon. “Presidential elections in Venezuela have taken place, and if imperialists want new elections let them wait until 2025,” he said in an apparent reference to Washington.
Guaido called for more protests on Wednesday and a mass march on the weekend, in a bid to keep up pressure on Maduro in the streets. Wednesday’s action would not be a major march, but a series of small concentrations, Guaido said.