Can­di­date killed as vi­o­lence erupts in Venezuela vote

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Cara­cas, Venezuela - Deadly vi­o­lence erupted around a con­tro­ver­sial vote held in Venezuela on Sun­day, with a can­di­date to the all-pow­er­ful as­sem­bly be­ing elected shot dead in his home and troops fir­ing weapons to clear pro­test­ers in Cara­cas.

The un­rest high­lighted the ten­sions over the vote called by be­lea­guered Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro de­spite months of demon­stra­tions and fierce in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism.

He is gam­bling his four year rule on the 545 mem­ber cit­i­zens’ ‘Con­stituent As­sem­bly’ em­pow­ered to dis­solve the op­po­si­tion­con­trolled congress and change laws as it re­forms the na­tion’s con­sti­tu­tion.

A can­di­date for the new body in Venezuela’s south­east­ern town of Ci­u­dad Bo­li­var, 39 year old lawyer Jose Felix Pineda, was killed from mul­ti­ple shots fired by as­sailants who broke into his home overnight, pros­e­cu­tors said. He was the sec­ond can­di­date to be mur­dered, af­ter the July 10 death of an­other, Jose Luis Ri­vas, as he was cam­paign­ing in the north­ern city of Mara­cay.

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

Video posted on Twit­ter showed troops smash­ing down a metal gate and en­ter­ing to the sounds of gun­fire, and what ap­peared to be an ar­mored ve­hi­cle on fire.

The op­po­si­tion has called for a boy­cott and mass demon­stra­tions against the elec­tion, which it calls a bid by Maduro to in­stall a dic­ta­tor­ship with the back­ing of the mil­i­tary.

Four months of protests against Maduro and the new as­sem­bly have left more than 100 peo­ple dead.

Maduro kicked off vot­ing by cast­ing his bal­lot in a west Cara­cas polling sta­tion.

“I’m the first voter in the coun­try. I ask God for his bless­ings so the peo­ple can freely ex­er­cise their demo­cratic right to vote,” the Pres­i­dent said. He was ac­com­pa­nied by his wife, Cilia Flores, who is a can­di­date to sit on the new as­sem­bly. Turnout will be key to de­ter­min­ing the le­git­i­macy of the elec­tion. But that will be dif­fi­cult to as­cer­tain as most vot­ers will be able to vote twice, as can­di­dates are drawn from so­cial and in­dus­try sec­tors as well as ge­o­graph­i­cally.

(AFP)

A voter ex­er­cises fran­chise to elect a ‘Con­stituent As­sem­bly’ in Cara­cas on Sun­day

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