Philippine Daily Inquirer - - WORLD - —AP

CARA­CAS— Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro is pledg­ing to go af­ter his po­lit­i­cal foes with the vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited pow­ers of a con­sti­tu­tional assem­bly that his back­ers will se­lect on Sun­day as his op­po­nents wage a last-ditch bat­tle to halt what they call the re­place­ment of Venezue­lan democ­racy with a sin­gle-party au­thor­i­tar­ian sys­tem.

Faced with spi­ral­ing so­cioe­co­nomic catas­tro­phe, Maduro is call­ing for his sup­port­ers to turn out in mass to elect a spe­cial assem­bly with the pow­ers to re­write the coun­try’s 1999 con­sti­tu­tion.

The 18-year-old con­sti­tu­tion says no other branch of gov­ern­ment can im­pede the work­ings of the con­sti­tu­tional assem­bly.

Some in­ter­pret that as grant­ing the new assem­bly pow­ers above and be­yond every other state in­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled congress.

Pub­lic opin­ion

While opin­ion polls say a vast ma­jor­ity op­pose him, Maduro made clear in a tele­vised ad­dress on Sat­ur­day evening that he in­tended to use the assem­bly to gov­ern with­out lim­i­ta­tion, de­scrib­ing the vote as “the elec­tion of a power that’s above and be­yond every other. It’s the su­per power!”

He said he wanted the as- sem­bly to strip op­po­si­tion leg­is­la­tors of their con­sti­tu­tional im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion and jail at least one— Freddy Gue­vara, a hard­line op­po­si­tion leader and one the high­est- pro­file or­ga­niz­ers of four months of protests against the gov­ern­ment.

“This lit­tle Hitler has his cell guar­an­teed!” Maduro shouted, us­ing his fre­quent nick­name for Gue­vara.

The op­po­si­tion is boy­cotting Sun­day’s vote, con­tend­ing that the elec­tion has been struc­tured to en­sure Maduro’s so­cial­ist party con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate. All 5,500 can­di­dates for the 545 seats in the con­stituent assem­bly are his sup­port­ers.


FOOD LINE Venezue­lan cit­i­zens line up to buy food at a store even as so­cial­ist Pres­i­dent Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro vowed to go af­ter his crit­ics with a con­stituent assem­bly to be elected on Sun­day.

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