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AFP

Venezuela’s government and right-wing opposition groups have returned to the negotiating table, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday. 

The “negotiating table” was installed in the Dominican Republic, where delegates from both sides met on Sept. 13-14 in a bid to overcome the political crisis that has been plaguing the country, he said in a televised broadcast. 

Maduro thanked his Dominican counterpart Danilo Medina, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and others for helping to restore the talks with the opposition coalition, known by its Spanish acronym MUD, which were terminated in December. 

Thanks to their help, “we are close to reaching an agreement on political coexistence between the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan opposition,” he said. 

The two sides are at an advanced stage in negotiations, said Maduro, thanking opposition leaders “for having sat down to work and to dialogue” with his administration. 

The government and the opposition have been locked in a bitter power struggle since Maduro defeated the MUD’s presidential candidate by a narrow margin in 2013. Violent anti-government demonstrations have rocked the country. 

Demonstrators clash with members of Venezuelan National Guard. Photo: curacaochronicle

Crisis In Venezuela

Two factions divide the Venezuelan people:

  • Chavistas, the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chaves.
  • Those who want to see an end United Socialist Party (PSUV) who has held power for 18 years.

 Dozens of people have been killed during the anti-government protests since April. Opposition power argue that since PSUV came into power in 1999, the countries’ democratic institutions have been damaged, and the economy was mismanaged. 

It is reported that 95% of Venezuela’s export revenues comes from oil and this was used by the government to finance social programs, which according to Venezuelan officials, it has provided more than one million poor Venezuelans with homes.

Latest Conflict 

Supreme Court decision on March 29 took all the powers of the opposition-controlled National assembly, which further heightened the tension between the government and the opposition party. This action resumed the protests in the street. The opposition claimed that the ruling undermined the seperation of powers and was a method to take the country closer to dictatorship rule by President Nicolas Maduro. 

Demonstrators clash with members of Venezuelan National Guard during a rally demanding a referendum to remove Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Opposition’s Demands

Opposition party have four point demand:

  • Removing the Justices involved in March 29 ruling
  • General election in 2017
  • Creation and use of “humanitarian channel” so that medications can be imported to Venezuela. (Venezuela currently faces medication shortages)
  • Release of all the “political prisoners”

 

Having to face protests almost daily, President Maduro announced on May that he would convene a constituent assembly, as a move to not abide by the demands of the opposition for early presidential elections.

Opposition, however, fears that the constituent assembly would weaken the National Assembly, a legislative body, currently controlled by Venezuela’s opposition.

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