March 1 (UPI) -- Venezuela's ruling United Socialist Party agreed to delay presidential elections until May 20 as part of a deal with several opposition parties to give them more time to campaign, officials said Thursday.
The delay also is intended to give more Venezuelans, including those living abroad, time to register to vote, as well as to form a team of election observers from the United Nations.
The previous election date was April 22, which was earlier than expected and seen by critics of the government as a way to further fracture opposition parties from being able to mount an effective campaign against the ruling United Socialist Party, also known as the PSUV.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who will be seeking a second six-year term as leader of the PSUV, said he welcomed the delay.
"I want to go to a process of reconciliation with all Venezuelans ... I feel very happy and satisfied with the agreement signed today with the opposition," Maduro said, according to Telesur.
Although the agreement was made with multiple opposition parties, the U.S-backed opposition coalition said it will stick to its previous plans to boycott the election altogether.
"We're not participating because there are no open elections, because they are not respecting the right to vote, the right to choose or the will of every Venezuelan," said Juan Pablo Guanipa, a leader of the Primero Justicia Party, The New York Times reported.