The Latest: Venezuela leader decrees constitutional assembly
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has signed a decree for convening a citizens assembly to rewrite the constitution.
He has not yet given any details on how the body will be selected or when it might meet. But he says the matter of a new charter will be decided by “the workers” and not by the country’s political parties.
Maduro’s action comes hours after anti-government protesters clashed with Venezuelan police in the capital Monday as a growing movement calling for his ouster entered its second month.
Opposition leaders earlier denounced Maduro’s call for a new constitution as a “giant fraud” designed to keep the president in power and deny Venezuelans the right to express their views through elections.
Venezuela’s opposition is rejecting out of hand a call from President Nicolas Maduro for a citizens assembly to rewrite the constitution as a way out of the country’s political stalemate.
National Assembly President Julio Borges calls the move a “giant fraud” and “trap” by Maduro and his allies to remain in power at any cost, denying Venezuelans the right to express their views at the ballot box. He is urging Venezuela’s armed forces to step in to prevent the “coup” by Maduro from taking place.
Borges says that “what the Venezuelan people want isn’t to change the constitution but to change Maduro through voting.”
He made the comment at a Monday news conference in eastern Caracas, where anti-government protesters once again clashed with police earlier in the day.
Protests have been roiling Venezuela for a month, and Borges says more pressure is needed to restore democracy. He is urging a series of street actions, including a symbolic pot-banging protest Monday night when Maduro is expected to unveil details of his plan and a major demonstration Wednesday.
Venezuela’s embattled socialist president is calling for a citizens congress and a new constitution.
The move by President Nicolas Maduro comes amid an escalating political crisis in the economically embattled South American country.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets nearly every day for a month demanding Maduro’s ouster.
Maduro says a citizens assembly and new constitution are needed to restore peace in the country and stop his political opponents from what he claims is their intent to carry out a coup.