‘De­ci­sive week’ for Venezue­lan elec­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

CARACAS, Venezuela — Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro said on Tues­day that his coun­try is in a “de­ci­sive week” for peace, ahead of elec­tions for a Na­tional Con­stituent Assem­bly, or ANC, on Sun­day.

“We are in a de­ci­sive week so that Venezuela def­i­nitely takes the path of peace,” Maduro said in a public ad­dress in Caracas.

He said Venezue­lans will choose be­tween “peace or war”, “the fu­ture or the past”, “in­de­pen­dence or colo­nial­ism” and “the sov­er­eign power of the peo­ple or the oli­garchic, im­pe­ri­al­ist coup”.

On Sun­day, about 20 mil­lion Venezue­lans will elect 545 mem­bers of the ANC, who will draft a new Con­sti­tu­tion. mil­lion

How­ever, the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Unity Round­table, or MUD, has been re­lent­less in protest­ing the move, which it sees as a power grab by Maduro.

Street protests since April against the Maduro gov­ern­ment have claimed at least 102 lives.

Venezuela’s At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Luisa Ortega Diaz, who has lodged two un­suc­cess­ful ap­peals against the ANC to the Supreme Court, ac­cused Maduro of seek­ing to re­write the Con­sti­tu­tion in or­der to pro­long his stay in of­fice.

While Ortega Diaz was ap­pointed by the gov­ern­ment, she has now be­come one of Maduro’s prin­ci­pal crit­ics, slam­ming his call for the elec­tions as un­con­sti­tu­tional.

On May 1, Maduro called for the July 30 ANC, reck­on­ing it as the only way to lead the coun­try out of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cri­sis.

Ortega Diaz dis­missed the ANC as “de­ceit­ful, as it will not re­solve the ma­jor prob­lems of food, of hospitals, of in­se­cu­rity”.

Maduro’s gov­ern­ment has re­sponded by la­bel­ing Ortega Diaz a “traitor” and has vowed to re­view all the staff from her of­fice “one by one” af­ter the elec­tion.

The clash be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion be­came a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis since Jan­uary last year, when the lat­ter won con­trol of the Na­tional Assem­bly and ended a 17-year con­trol by for­mer pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez and his suc­ces­sor Maduro.

In mid-July, the op­po­si­tion MUD held its own un­of­fi­cial referendum to protest the ANC, in which it said more than 7 mil­lion Venezue­lans turned out to re­ject any at­tempt to re­write the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Venezue­lans will elect 545 mem­bers of the ANC, who will draft a new Con­sti­tu­tion.

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