Opposition leader Juan Guaido urges military leadership to join a "unity pact" of opposition forces to block the holding of December 6 legislative elections in a bid to pressurise President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido has called on the armed forces to back a boycott of December's legislative polls and help escalate international pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.
In an address on social media, Guaido urged the military high command to join a "unity pact" of opposition forces to block the holding of the December 6 polls.
"Stop hiding behind the dictator's skirts, stop ignoring the reality in Venezuela," Guaido said in a message addressed to the high command, considered the main pillar of Maduro's rule, along with allies Russia and Iran.
"We are willing to sit down once again with those who are needed to achieve a transition," Guaido said.
Unsuccessful attempt of displacement
Since 2018 election, the opposition has tried unsuccessfully to displace Maduro, including an abortive April 2019 military uprising organised by Guaido which failed to muster much support.
Guaido and leading opposition figures vowed to boycott the December 6 elections over a lack of transparency after the Maduro-friendly Supreme Court appointed election officials, a role that should have been conducted by the opposition-controlled legislature.
Some 37 opposition parties are backing the election boycott and a so-called pact proposing to "increase international pressure against the dictatorship," according to Guaido.
Calls for EU election observers
However, some prominent opposition figures, have spoken out in favour of participation in the polls, including Henrique Capriles, a widely-respected figure who has twice run for the presidency.
Another prominent opposition lawmaker, Stalin Gonzales, also publicly split from the pro-boycott group last week, saying that mobilising opposition at the ballot box would be more effective than a boycott.
Capriles is asking the European Union to send in observers for the vote for a new parliament.
"Europe has a historic opportunity to help this country recover its democracy," Capriles said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais published on Monday.
Capriles has suggested that the December 6 election should be postponed due to Covid-19 and to ensure proper conditions for the vote, though Maduro over the weekend said there was no chance of a change in the date.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza last week said he sent a letter inviting the European Union and the United Nations to send observers and describing "ample guarantees" to ensure a fair election.
The United States expanded its sanctions on Venezuela last year by targeting oil exports and seeking to block fuel imports to pressure Maduro into stepping aside, though he has held on thanks to military backing.
Washington has stood by Guaido, who last year assumed an interim presidency after declaring Maduro a usurper in the wake of his disputed 2018 re-election.
Venezuela is sitting on the world's largest proven oil reserves but under Maduro's watch, the country has descended into crisis.
Poverty has soared, inflation is the highest in the world, and oil production is down to its lowest level in 77 years, which experts blame on mismanagement and corruption.