Venezuela's presidential elections have been set for April 22, it has been announced, as talks between the government and opposition aimed at promoting peace and unity appeared to crumble.
The head of Venezuela's electoral authority, Tibisay Lucena, made the announcement Wednesday evening.
The news follows last week's confirmation that incumbent President Nicolas Maduro has been named the official candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
Maduro, 55, who narrowly won elections in 2013 to replace former President Hugo Chavez, is the favorite to win the presidential vote.
The former bus driver and union leader who has been president since 2013 appeared on Wednesday evening in front of a cheering crowd, who sang his campaign jingle, "Everyone with Maduro!"
"Victory is ours!" said Maduro in the televised broadcast, during which he danced and embraced supporters.
On Jan. 26, Maduro had pledged to be "the president of Venezuelan youth and women" after announcing his candidacy for the forthcoming elections.
Two opposition leaders, Henry Ramos and Henri Falcon, have also announced presidential aspirations, but both are divisive figures: Ramos is seen as too old-school by many, while Falcon recently lost a re-election bid for governor of Lara state.
Opponents say the government is rigging the election in advance by barring Maduro's strongest rivals - opposition politicians Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles - and failing to reform a compa
Also on Wednesday, Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina announced that dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the right-wing opposition had entered a stage of indefinite recess after the opposition refused to sign a draft agreement aimed at promoting peace and unity between the two parties.
The opposition said the government would not budge on issues including freedom for jailed opposition activists or humanitarian aid for hungry and ill Venezuelans. The government, meanwhile, accused opposition leaders of taking orders from Washington to abort the talks.
Medina said Maduro had expressed "the desire to continue dialogue," but the opposition delegation "did not understand" that the signing of the final peace agreement would take place on Tuesday in front of international observers.