MADURO: REWRITING CONSTITUTION WILL GRANT POWER ABOVE AND BEY0ND EVERY OTHER
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.
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.