The President of the National Electoral Commission of Venezuela (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, announced on Wednesday, February 7, that the Presidential elections will be held on April 22 this year.
“Although the much-expected peace agreement [between the government and the opposition] wasn’t signed, we can assure that there is no road to peace: peace is the only way to peace. We in the CNE are committed, as always, to carry out our task in strict accordance to the Constitution so that differences are solved through the vote”, Lucena expressed in a press conference in the headquarters of the electoral organism in Caracas.
Last-minute suspension of the peace agreement
The long process of peace negotiations between the Chavista government of Nicolás Maduro and the right-wing opposition was suspended unilaterally by the opposition after a call from Colombia, where the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was visiting.
“All the details of the six items of the peace agreement are completely ready”, government spokesman Jorge Rodríguez announced last February 6. Government representatives had already signed it and only the signatures of the opposition were missing. But the next day, Danilo Medina, President of Dominican Republic—the country that is hosting the peace negotiations—announced that the Agreement of Democratic Coexistence for Venezuela had been indefinitely suspended because the opposition didn’t agree with the final draft of the document.
Rodríguez Zapatero exhorts opposition to sign
Former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero sent a letter to Venezuela’s opposition encouraging them to sign the agreement.
In the letter, Rodríguez Zapatero, who is a facilitator of the dialogue along with the Dominican President, writes:
“It was a surprise to me that the document was not signed by the opposition representation. I do not agree with the circumstances and the reasons, but my duty is to defend the truth and my commitment is not to give up on the achievement of a historic commitment among Venezuelans.
That is why I ask you, thinking of peace and democracy, that your organization formally endorse the agreement that I send you, once the government has committed to scrupulously respecting what was agreed”.