The Venezuelan opposition has rejected the resumption of Vatican-backed talks with the government next month.
Jesus Torrealba, the leader of the opposition MUD coalition, made the announcement on Saturday, saying that his side would not resume stalled talks with the government in Caracas due to a number of demands that had not been met so far.
The MUD is demanding that the negotiations result in setting a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro or that the date of the presidential election due for December 2018 be brought forward. It also seeks the release of jailed opposition leaders.
“Conditions do not exist for the return to direct dialog between the parties on January 13,” Torrealba said.
Under constitutional rules, the opposition must secure a recall referendum before January 10 if it wants to remove Maduro. Otherwise, the president or his allies will maintain power until 2019.
The talk being mediated by the Vatican are aimed at resolving the economic and political crises facing the country.
The crash of oil prices in 2014 triggered an economic crisis in Venezuela, leading to severe shortages of basic supplies and soaring inflation. While the center-right opposition holds Maduro’s administration responsible for the country’s the economic woes, the Venezuelan leader has blamed everything on a US-sponsored conspiracy.
Analysts have warned there is a risk of unrest in Venezuela. Anti-government unrest in 2014 led to the death of over 40 people dead.