Maduro out­lines elec­tion rules

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

VENEZUELA’S Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro re­it­er­ated on Tues­day that the only in­sti­tu­tion al­lowed to or­gan­ise elections in Venezuela was the Na­tional Elec­toral Coun­cil.

The pres­i­dent was re­spond­ing to calls for a sym­bolic ref­er­en­dum planned by op­po­si­tion groups.

“We are prepar­ing our­selves for a con­stituent process that will be free, sov­er­eign, con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal, or­gan­ised by the only body that or­gan­ises any elec­toral process in the coun­try,” said Maduro to his min­is­ters and gov­er­nors dur­ing the Fed­eral Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ment in the pres­i­den­tial palace.

The pres­i­dent said that to call any kind of ref­er­en­dum it was nec­es­sary to meet con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments and mech­a­nisms.

“No one can de­cide to con­vene public con­sul­ta­tions that are bind­ing in vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion, the rights es­tab­lished here or on their own,” he said.

He said that a so­ci­ety had to gov­ern its destiny on the ba­sis of re­spect for the laws, the con­sti­tu­tion, rules of play and the public pow­ers.

“No one can claim a par­al­lel, il­le­gal, un­con­sti­tu­tional, im­pro­vised state,” he warned.

At least 94 peo­ple have died since op­po­si­tion-led protests aimed at top­pling the Maduro gov­ern­ment be­gan in early April.

In ad­di­tion to those killed, more than 1 200 have been in­jured and dozens of public build­ings and in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals and schools, have been at­tacked by vi­o­lent op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers, while count­less small busi­nesses have been looted.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers have re­peat­edly re­jected calls for di­a­logue and have threat­ened to dis­rupt the Na­tional Con­stituent Assem­bly.

The elec­toral cam­paign for the assem­bly be­gins on Sun­day and will run un­til July 27.

Three days later, 545 mem­bers will be cho­sen in di­rect and secret elections that will de­ter­mine who will sit on the body that will draft the con­sti­tu­tional text that will be put to a pop­u­lar vote.

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