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Nicolas Maduro launches constitution overhaul

31 May 2017

The ruling was later partially reversed amid a backlash of global criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for nearly two months and on Thursday claimed another victim, bringing the death toll to 45.

According to Lucena, Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) has made a decision to hold the National Constituent Assembly elections in late July, while regional elections are scheduled to take place in December.

Electoral officials in Venezuela are scheduling long-delayed regional elections for December, though the apparent olive branch may never come to fruition, as a special assembly to rewrite the nation's constitution is slated to take place first.

A ruling issued in late March that stripped Venezuela's congress of its last powers was later reversed amid a storm of global criticism.

A demonstrator wearing a helmet that belongs to the Bolivarian National Guard carries a fire bomb during clashes with security forces at an anti-government protest demanding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro open a so-calle.

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A supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds banner with a picture of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999 during a rally in support the reform of new reform of constitution in downtown Caracas, Venezuela May 23, 2017.

Opposition leaders are urging restraint from their followers, but say security forces and pro-government militias - not the protesters - are behind the vast number of deadly attacks.

Massive demonstrations, violence and a rising death toll marked 50 consecutive days of anti-government protests in Venezuela.

The opposition blames him for an economic crisis that has caused major shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods amid soaring inflation.

Maduro's rivals fear that a new constituent assembly could rewrite rules or exclude opposition parties, making a sham of future elections that could vanquish the ruling socialists if the polls were free and fair.

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"The Foreign Ministers were ...persuaded that the solution to the present situation had to be sought internally, supported by a mediated process", a release on Friday from the Caricom Secretariat said.

"Once installed, this constituent assembly will eliminate governorships, mayors, and the National Assembly", said opposition lawmaker Tomas Guanipa.

Riots and looting have raised risks that protests could spin out of control, given the widespread hunger, anger at Maduro and easy access to weapons in one of the world's most violent countries.

They say that he has become increasingly authoritarian since he was elected in 2013, blocking their attempts to hold a recall referendum and delaying elections for governors.

It noted that the decision had provoked condemnation from Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez who stated on Twitter that "It's outrageous and unacceptable for the United States to impose sanctions on a sovereign and independent nation in violation of Venezuelan and global laws".

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Nicolas Maduro launches constitution overhaul