Venezuela's electoral authorities have announced that presidential elections will take place on 22 April. "Nicolas Maduro is a president elected by the population's will and is not the result of a coup d'état, as the case of Michel Temer in Brazil, nor of a pseudo-legal strategy like Donald Trump in the United States, who was given two million votes less than his rival in the 2016 elections, but he "won" by the way the votes were counted", he said.
The decision is further complicated by the fact that some of the most charismatic opposition leaders are either barred from standing, in detention, or have left the country for fear of arrest.
After surviving months of massive street protests previous year, Maduro has consolidated his power by creating a new legislative superbody and sidelining opposition parties.
Some say participating in what they consider a sham election will merely lend legitimacy to an authoritarian government.
Opposition leader Julio Borges said the coalition would meet Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, analyst Gustavo Espinoza rejected the campaign of media manipulation against the Bolivarian process and against Maduro, who, he said, will come to defend the sovereignty of his country and the region and condemn the arrogance of the USA government.
"Victory is ours!" said Maduro in the televised broadcast, during which he danced and embraced supporters.
The announcement comes hours after a breakdown in negotiations between Venezuela's ruling socialist party and opposition politicians.
Opposition activists say Maduro's focus on campaign aesthetics show he is an uncaring tyrant vying to amass power even if it risks pushing Venezuela into a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Setting the date for the presidential elections was one of the points of contention the two sides sought to resolve through resumed dialogue in Santo Domingo since September, in a bid to overcome a political stalemate that has only intensified Venezuela's economic woes. The government, meanwhile, accused opposition leaders of taking orders from Washington to abort the talks.