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Maduro vows to hold referendum on new constitution

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro pledged on Thursday to hold a referendum on a new constitution he is proposing in response to two months of protests by opponents who call him a dictator and want an end to socialist rule.

Axar.az reports citing France24.

His comments came in response to criticism not just from opponents, but also some within government, that his plan to create a new super-body, known as a constituent assembly, to rewrite the national charter was anti-democratic.

Chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega had said creating the assembly, without a plebiscite as happened in 1999 when Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez rewrote the constitution, threatened to"eliminate" democracy in Venezuela.

"I shall propose it explicitly: the new constitution will go to a consultative referendum so it is the people who say whether they are in agreement or not with the new, strengthened constitution," Maduro said on state TV.

There was no immediate reaction from Venezuela's opposition, which now has majority support after years in the shadow of the ruling Socialist Party whose popularity has plunged during the OPEC nation's brutal economic crisis.

Foes are likely to try and turn any referendum into a vote on Maduro himself. They have been calling for a bringing forward of the next presidential election, slated for late 2018.

The government has said elections for the new constituent assembly will be held in late July, though opposition leaders have said the process is skewed to ensure a pro-Maduro majority.

There was no word on when the plebiscite would be held.

Earlier, authorities announced that gunmen had killed a judge involved in the sentencing of Venezuela's best-known jailed political leader Leopoldo Lopez in the latest fatality of the anti-government unrest that has left at least 61 people dead.

The judge, 37-year-old Nelson Moncada, was shot and stripped of his belongings as he tried to get away from a street barricade on Wednesday night in Caracas' El Paraiso district, the scene of regular clashes, the prosecutor's office said.

This week has seen widespread violence around the Venezuelan capital, with security forces repeatedly breaking up marches by opposition supporters towards government offices downtown, and skirmishes continuing into the night.

Date
2017.06.02 / 14:48
Author
Axar.az
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