Published: Mon, May 29, 2017
World News | By Cecilia Wilkerson

Maduro pushes ahead with his 'constituent' congress

Maduro pushes ahead with his 'constituent' congress

Maduro's rivals fear that a new constituent assembly could rewrite rules or exclude opposition parties, making a sham of future elections that would likely vanquish the ruling socialists if the polls were free and fair.

A day earlier, President Nicolas Maduro accused protesters of setting fire to a government supporter, saying "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root inside the opposition's ranks and contributing to a risky spiral of violence in the two-month antigovernment protest movement.

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Maduro gave details about how the people tasked with writing a new constitution will be chosen.

Maduro s government repeated its claim that it was targeted by an worldwide conspiracy.

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"In Venezuela there's rising a counterrevolution of Nazi-fascist influence that that has infected the emotions and thinking of thousands of compatriots, who believe they have the right to pursue others for the simple crime of being Venezuelan or Chavista or revolutionary", Maduro said Sunday during his weekly TV program. She added that elections for representatives of the National Constituent Assembly are expected to be held in mid-July.

On Tuesday, National Electoral Council head Tibisay Lucena also announced that the gubernatorial elections would be held on 10 December, a year after they were originally due.

Maduro was undaunted on Tuesday, presenting the proposed 540-member "constituent assembly" as a way to defuse anti-government protests, which he says are part of a USA -backed conspiracy to overthrow "21st Century socialism".

"The Venezuelan people do not want a fraudulent Madurist constitution and we will not accept it", opposition leader Henrique Capriles tweeted.

A medical professional wears his scrubs during an anti-government protest demanding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro open a so-called humanitarian corridor for the delivery of medicine and food aid, in Caracas, Venezuela, .

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Last week, President Donald Trump called the Venezuelan situation "a disgrace to humanity" and the United States has placed sanctions on the country since Maduro expanded his executive authority following opposition victories in 2015 congressional elections.

In the most telling sign of internal rumblings against Maduro, Venezuela's state prosecutor panned his plan for a grassroots congress and warned it risked deepening the crisis.

The government abruptly postponed regional elections the opposition was heavily favored to win last year and called off a petition drive to force a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before presidential elections slated for next year.

The opposition blames him for an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.

Venezuela's economy, which was once the richest in Latin America, is estimated to have shrunk by 10 per cent a year ago and the severity of the crisis is believed to have led to 75 per cent of the population to lose an average of 19lbs in weight.

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