Venezuelan presidential vote delayed to May after deal with some opposition parties

The opposition intends to boycott polling on April 22.

Western nations and a dozen Latin American neighbors have reprimanded Maduro's government over unfair conditions for the vote, and the United States is considering imposing sanctions on the OPEC member's crucial oil sector.

The Venezuelan president said at a meeting with governors and mayors that the cards would allow the country's citizens to continue receiving aid despite USA and European economic sanctions.

The pact was signed by representatives of the political organizations that nominated President Nicolás Maduro for his reelection, and by parties that support the opposition candidate Henri Falcón, Avanzada Progresista, Copei and the MAS.

The 56-year-old former state governor believes he can win, even without the coalition's election machinery behind him, by taking advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling socialists over a fifth year of grueling recession.

"I call again the Venezuelan opposition to break its dependence ties with the United States' Charge d'Affaires of their embassy and its diplomatic characters", said Maduro.

The CNE said the poll would now be held on 20 May.

Reuters reports the Trump administration is considering harder-hitting sanctions against Venezuela's oil sector than in the past ahead of the country's April presidential election, according to a source close to the internal discussions on the matter. Maduro wants Mr. Falcon to run to give the election a veil of legitimacy. Mr.

Oil-rich Venezuela is mired in the world's worst economic collapse today, and Maduro's approval rating sits at about 30 percent.

The vote has also been rejected by election observers and worldwide bodies, as well as the United States and many of Venezuela's neighbors. Mr.

Lucena did not yet set an election date.

Maduro also handed in the Government Program for the 2019-2025 presidential period, which is considered to be the continuation of Hugo Chavez' Fatherland Plan 2013-2019.

The election has been widely criticized by countries throughout Latin America and the US, which has hinted at expanding sanctions if the vote takes place.

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