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Venezuela opposition puts Maduro 'trial' on hold

Opposition members in Venezuela have suspended the "trial" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, ahead of talks with the government. However, the lawmakers warn they might quit the negotiations if demands are not met.

Venezuela's opposition said on Tuesday it was postponing the hearings which were underway in parliament as a gesture of good faith after the government released four jailed activists.

Henry Ramos Allup, the speaker of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, said the decision to delay the proceedings was not a "capitulation." Instead, he said, it was a desire to find a solution to the crisis.

Analysts had said Nicolas Maduro's "trial" would have been largely symbolic because the constitution gives the president immunity from such processes. The hearing, which Maduro has called a "coup attempt," had been slated for Tuesday. Maduro has said those involved in trying to depose him should be jailed.

Option to walk away 

Opposition legislative leader Julio Borges said his lawmakers had drawn up a raft of demands, such as the release of political prisoners and new elections. If these were not met, he said, proceedings against the president would go ahead.

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"We have put these points on the table, not so that they can be addressed in months but rather in the coming days and weeks," said Borges during Tuesday's session. "Otherwise, we will walk away from the negotiating table and continue with our struggle."

Playing for time?

The postponement comes after Vatican-sponsored talks between the government and opposition on Sunday. The Holy See - with help from former Presidents Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, Martin Torrijos of Panama and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic - is mediating a crisis sharpened by the political efforts to remove Maduro from power.

Some opposition leaders say they believe Maduro is using the dialogue as a way ease tensions that have been worsened by mismanagement of the economy and oil revenues - amid allegations of massive graft.

While the opposition won control of congress in December for the first time in the 17 years, the executive branch, the courts and the military are dominated by supporters of the the late President Hugo Chavez and his political heir, Maduro.

rc/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)

 

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