Venezuela's President Maduro calls for talks with opposition

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Protest march in Caracas, 22 April 2107Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The latest protests were on Saturday and another march is planned for Monday

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has called for talks to resume with the opposition.

He also said he wanted local elections to take place.

His comments came as another large demonstration is planned for Monday after three weeks of tense protests across the country.

Demonstrators have been calling for presidential elections due next year to be brought forward and for President Maduro to step down.

Last year's negotiations between the opposition and the government broke down when the opposition accused Mr Maduro of breaking agreements and using the talks to buy time.

Speaking during his Sunday TV programme, Mr Maduro endorsed the idea of elections for mayors and state governors but did not mention a vote at presidential level.

"Elections - yes, I want elections now," he said

"That is what I say as the head of state, and as the head of government."

Elections for state governors were to have taken place last December, and local mayoral elections are due this year.

Saturday saw silent marches across Venezuela as protestors, wearing white, showed their respect for around 20 people who have died in recent demonstrations.

Human rights campaigners say more than 1,000 people were detained during recent disturbances and over 700 are still in detention.

The opposition blames the government for a severe economic crisis which has left the country with shortages of food, basic goods and medicine.

The protests were sparked by an attempt by the government-controlled Supreme Court to assume some powers of the opposition-dominated Congress.