Venezuela opposition ponders whether to fight Maduro in vote

CARACAS: Venezuela’s opposition was to huddle on Thursday and debate whether to participate in a controversial April presidential vote despite the barring of its best two candidates and an electoral board favouring President Nicolas Maduro.
Electoral authorities on Wednesday set the election for April 22 after mediation talks in the Dominican Republic between the unpopular leftist government and an opposition coalition collapsed, leaving Maduro the favourite for re-election.
The 55-year-old former bus driver and union leader is running despite his widespread unpopularity and a devastating economic crisis that has spawned malnutrition, disease, hyperinflation and emigration.
After surviving months of massive street protests last year, Maduro has consolidated his power by creating a new legislative superbody and sidelining opposition parties.
His foes are split about whether they should run against him.
Some say participating in what they consider a sham election will merely lend legitimacy to an authoritarian government. The most popular figureheads are both unable to run; Henrique Capriles is barred from office while Leopoldo Lopez is under house arrest. Several countries, including major Latin American countries, have already said the vote will lack legitimacy.
But other opposition activists say they have to keep up pressure by voting, and an upset could occur given public disgust at growing national penury. — Reuters