Carter proposals seek to end Venezuela trouble

| 1/22/2003

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Jan.21 he had proposed an agreement on elections to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his opponents that he thought could help end the country's long-running political crisis, according to news reports.

Carter said after talks with Chavez in Caracas that his plan included an end to the seven-week-old oil strike that is crippling the economy of the world's No. 5 oil exporter. Strike leaders have been calling for the populist president to resign and hold early elections.

"My opinion is that both sides now want to reach an agreement to end the impasse," Carter told a news conference. "I think this is a step in a positive direction, but certainly not a definitive answer."

Carter's proposal, outlined at the news conference, comprised two alternatives:

One was for an amendment to Venezuela's constitution that would trigger early elections. The other was for the country to wait until Aug. 19, halfway through Chavez's term, when the Constitution allows for a binding referendum on the president's rule, which is due to end in early 2007.