Leading Venezuelan opposition figures joined the party of an ex-presidential candidate Saturday in an attempt to consolidate forces as President Hugo Chavez moves to form a single pro-government party.
Opposition consolidates against Chavez
By Elizabeth Nunez
Manuel Rosales, who unsuccessfully ran against Chavez in December elections, swore in about a dozen new members, including some of Venezuela’s highest-profile opposition figures.
They included Leopoldo Lopez, the outspoken mayor of Caracas, and Gerardo Blyde, the former secretary-general of another prominent opposition party.
Since winning the Dec. 3 election, Chavez has called for political groups that back him to merge into a single socialist party.
Rosales said that his party, A New Time, had no intention of becoming “the only party of the opposition,” but said it aimed at presenting a nationwide alternative for “a change in power in Venezuela.”
After years of fracture, most opposition forces came behind Rosales during the campaign and Saturday’s move appeared to confirm his role as the leader of Venezuela’s political opposition.
The group pledged to fight the Chavez government’s decision to discontinue the broadcast license of a TV station sharply critical of the administration.
Rosales accused Chavez of leading a “authoritarian” and “corrupt” government and strongly criticized recent nationalizations in the telecommunications and electricity sectors.
“If we follow this path, Venezuela will become a bankrupt country that produces nothing … (where) we are all dependent on the state, all poor,” he said.
Source: Associated Press