Faced with mounting unrest, Venezuela’s unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro vowed on Tuesday to push ahead in July with the formation of a “constituent assembly” to rewrite the constitution before regional elections in December. The South American OPEC member has been racked by strife, with 55 people killed during unrest in the past two months as public anger boiled over due to an economic meltdown that has left many Venezuelans scrabbling to afford three meals a day. In an apparent bid to show the government was seeking a democratic solution, the head of the pro-government electoral council said voting for a controversial “constituent assembly” would be held in late July.
Regional gubernatorial elections, meant to have been held last year, would take place on Dec. 10, he said.
The opposition reacted with fury, convinced that these moves were Maduro’s way of clinging to power.
Maduro’s rivals fear that a new constituent assembly could rewrite rules or exclude opposition parties, making a sham of future elections that would likely vanquish the ruling socialists if the polls were free and fair.