Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is calling for municipal and state legislative elections to renew democracy and tackle the main social and economic issues, he has announced, as the main opposition parties confirm they won't be taking part.
"We need a new National Assembly to represent the whole country," Maduro posted on Twitter. "We propose elections and we propose to include state legislative councils and municipal councils in it. That way we will have four years to focus exclusively on working for the country's prosperity."
President of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Delcy Rodriguez confirmed they received Maduro's petition to run general elections on April 22, the same day the country will hold the presidential elections.
"We have received President Maduro's proposal to advance the National Assembly elections and also hold the country's municipal and legislative councils elections. We can count with the ANC compromise to strengthen the country's democracy," tweeted Rodriguez.
The announcement comes after the strongest opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), said they wouldn't take part in the April 22 elections, which they claim have been rushed in an act of sabotage to take advantage of the MUD's internal divisions.
Responding to the MUD decision, Maduro said: "I ask the MUD... if you're not attending the elections, where will you go to? To the barricades? To a coup? How are you going to take over the presidency if you don't register? The MUD is scared. We will measure ourselves. I say elections now."
The president also said they were going to hold elections "with or without the MUD."
If approved by the ANC, the electoral process will include all 23 legislative councils and 335 municipal councils, along with the presidency.
Maduro said: "A mega election, elections, democracy, participation and thus we have the complete picture: legitimate governors and legitimate mayors, new, legitimate National Assembly, legitimate councilors, legitimate regional legislators and a president of the Republic legitimized by the vote."
On Tuesday, Pedro Pablo Fernandez, head of the Independent Electoral Policy Organization Committee (COPEI), said his party would support a unified candidacy for the April 22 presidential elections in Venezuela.
"We want to tell the national political leadership, the whole society, that we will face this government and will defeat it on April 22. We're the majority and abstention is a path that leads us nowhere," Fernandez told a press conference.
Leaders from the Progressive Advance (AP), Solutions Movement, Red Flag and Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) were also present at the press conference and said they would support the unified candidate proposal.