Venezuela pariah sta­tus looms

Daily News - - WORLD -

CARA­CAS: Venezuela’s rul­ing So­cial­ist Party has vowed that a newly elected leg­isla­tive su­per-body will be­gin pass­ing laws quickly af­ter a vote that was boy­cotted by the op­po­si­tion and slammed by for­eign gov­ern­ments as an af­front to democ­racy.

At least 10 peo­ple were killed yes­ter­day in protests by op­po­nents of left­ist Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, who in­sists the new “con­stituent as­sem­bly” will bring peace af­ter four months of protests that have killed more than 120 peo­ple.

The coun­try’s CNE elec­tions au­thor­ity said 8.1 mil­lion vot­ers went to the polls yes­ter­day. The op­po­si­tion es­ti­mated only 2.5 mil­lion bal­lots were cast.

Maduro’s crit­ics char­ac­terised the elec­tion as a naked power grab meant to keep him in of­fice de­spite re­pu­di­a­tion over an eco­nomic cri­sis that has spurred mal­nu­tri­tion and left cit­i­zens strug­gling to ob­tain ba­sic prod­ucts in the na­tion of about 30 mil­lion peo­ple.

The vote could ex­ac­er­bate those eco­nomic woes if the US – the top mar­ket for Venezue­lan oil – fol­lows through on threats of eco­nomic sanc­tions, and could sow doubts among in­vestors about the le­git­i­macy of fi­nanc­ing deals backed by the new as­sem­bly.

“The con­stituent as­sem­bly will start its work right away,” Dios­dado Ca­bello, deputy head of the So­cial­ist Party, told a post-elec­tion rally in Cara­cas that fea­tured singers, dancers and cul­mi­nated af­ter mid­night in the an­nounce­ment of the of­fi­cial vote count and a fiery speech by Maduro.

“Good morn­ing Venezuela. We have a con­stituent as­sem­bly!” he shouted. “I ask our coun­try­men to close ranks so that the as­sem­bly can be a place of di­a­logue.” – Reuters

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