Venezuela votes for all-powerful assembly, critics cry dictatorship

31 July, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • The Constituent Assembly was convoked in a bid to solve the political crisis peacefully

Violence continued to rage on the street, with another seven people killed during the latest opposition-led strike against President Nicolas Maduro's planned election for a powerful new Constituent Assembly on Sunday.

Four months of protests against Maduro have left more than 100 people dead amid fierce global criticism with soldiers firing on protesters.

A 39-year-old lawyer who was a candidate in Venezuela's southeastern town of Ciudad Bolivar was killed from multiple shots fired by assailants who broke into his home overnight, prosecutors said, adding the motive was as yet unknown.

Workers at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) received text messages asking them to send in their national identification number once they had voted, two sources said.

The opposition planned further protests on Sunday despite a government ban and prison sentences as high as 10 years for protesters.

In the west of Caracas, national guard troops fanning out to put down any disruption to the election used armored vehicles and fired teargas to disperse protesters blocking roads.

The Venezuelan leader has blamed the mounting unrest against him and his policies on the United States, working hand-in-hand with the Venezuelan opposition to wage an "economic war".

Venezuelans on Sunday vote for a constitutional super-body expected to hand sweeping new powers to ruling Socialist Party officials and potentially extend their unpopular rule in the convulsed OPEC nation.

After voting, Maduro told the media and the people gathered at the polling place settled by the National Electoral Council, that his vote was the first one for the peace, the independence, the sovereignty and the future peace.


Colombia says it will grant temporary legal status to more than 150,000 Venezuelans who have overstayed visas due to the deteriorating political and economic crisis in their home country.

But they will not have the option of rejecting it, even though some polls show that large majorities oppose the assembly's creation.

Other parts of the capital, however, operated normally on the eve of Sunday's divisive election to choose the new assembly.

The US, the European Union and Latin American powers - including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico - have come out against the vote, saying it would destroy Venezuelan democracy.

Several foreign airlines, including Air France, Delta, Avianca and Iberia have suspended flights to the country over worries about security.

He said he wants the assembly to strip opposition legislators of their constitutional immunity from prosecution and indicated he is eager to prosecute many more members of the opposition parties that control a handful of state governments along with the National Assembly, providing one of the few remaining checks on the power of the socialist party that has ruled this OPEC nation for almost two decades.

Panama has followed suit, and also backed U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

But Latin American countries, the European Union and the United States have criticized the election.

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