‘Decisive week’ for Venezuelan elections
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.