Nicolas Maduro, the unpopular socialist president of Venezuela, has made it clear he would be seeking a re-election as the South American nation is set to hold the presidential election in April, months before the official term ends.
Maduro's assertions come shortly after the rubber-stamp Constituent Assembly, filled with socialist-party loyalists, announced an early election will be called to counter the recently imposed sanctions by the European Union.
"It's the right decision. Imperialism and the right were plotting to take over the economy," Maduro told a group of red-shirted supporters pinning his hopes on clinching a fragmented opposition despite the deep economic crisis. "They should find the closest date, to get this out of the way so we can begin to make a great revolution."
Concerns are widespread that the existing political climate would not allow a free and fair democratic process to take place, given that rival political candidates are prohibited from contesting and chronic use of state machinery for political campaigns. There is no prominent opposition figure who could stand against Maduro as most of them are either jailed or barred from holding any public office.
Fourteen conservative Latin American nations have expressed displeasure over the early polls, saying it would be "impossible" to determine whether the election outcome will be credible.
"If the world wants to apply sanctions, we will apply elections," Diosdado Cabello, vice president of the pro-government election body, told reporters. "There will be [a] revolution for a long time to come. This announcement sends a debilitated opposition running to find a candidate [a] very short time frame."
Although an early election – according the Venezuelan constitution the new term should begin in January 2019 – was widely predicted, there were some hopes against the step since the government was engaged in talks with opposition groups for several weeks now.
With skyrocketing inflation numbers, the oil-rich country's economy has been hit due to declining oil prices and the continuing political power struggle in Caracas. This has resulted in a chronic shortage of food supplies, medicines and other basic resources as the country's currency, the bolivar, is in a free fall.