Venezuela's President Maduro confirms re-election bid

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Announcing the presidential poll would be held by the end of April, the pro-government Constituent Assembly superbody legislature said another election in Venezuela was further evidence of its democratic credentials despite a recent raft of global sanctions.

President Nicolas Maduro told thousands of his supporters at a rally that he is ready to seek another six-year term.

But with Maduro having survived violent protests last year and consolidated his party's hold off government branches after winning three elections last year, the global pressure has now given him a powerful rallying cry to seek re-election. None are now expected to be granted.

This would be Venezuela's fourth election since a July vote installed the constitutional assembly, which has been condemned internationally as a naked power grab by Maduro. Mexico, one of several foreign governments mediating the talks in the Dominican Republic, said it was withdrawing its support for the talks to protest the Maduro government's move.

Last October's regional elections also saw Maduro's governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela storm to victory by winning 17 of 24 governorships. "All of this will come at a cost of increased worldwide isolation, something that the government seems willing to stomach if the tradeoff is to lose power". He spoke hours after the pro-government Constituent Assembly, a legislative superbody, announced the vote would be held by April 30.

The most militant of government opponents believe it is useless to fight the socialists at the polls, given the election board - whose head is on USA and European Union sanctions lists - favours the government and turns a blind eye to use of state resources for campaign purposes. "The Venezuelan people have the right to choose their own destiny". In addition, last year, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck el-Aissami for drug trafficking.

Maduro's announcement comes a month after he banned opposition leaders from running who had questioned the legitimacy of the latest round of elections.

Many in the country of 30 million are suffering from severe shortages of food and medicine. The opposition alleged the voting was rigged after denouncing fraud in previous races, but the partial boycott highlighted tensions over how best to confront Maduro.

Its most popular leaders are nearly all sidelined from politics - jailed, in exile, or barred from holding office.

The vote had been slated for December, to allow the government and the opposition to agree a peaceful atmosphere, following months of angry and at times deadly protests. "Certainly the people would have to decide".

Geoff Ramsey, a Venezuela researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, said that by holding the election sooner, the ruling party is gambling that its chances would only suffer along with the economy the longer it waited. "If we go forward together, nobody can beat us", said young opposition leader Hasler Iglesias.

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