Venezuelan election going ahead despite continued protests

Venezuelan election going ahead despite continued protests

Violent demonstrations since April have left more than 100 people dead.

The opposition is boycotting the vote which it says is a power grab by President Nicolás Maduro.

Four months of protests against Maduro's rule, and more recently the Constituent Assembly plan, have killed 113 people. "What can't be done with votes we will do with weapons". They want to force this constitution on us and we don't want it. The US has pulled out its people, my boss has disappeared and we don't know when he'll be back.

But the government controls the election returns and there will be no independent oversight.

Maduro indicated he is eager to prosecute many more members of the opposition parties that control a handful of state governments along with the National Assembly, providing one of the few remaining checks on the power of the socialist party that has ruled this OPEC nation for almost two decades. President Maduro says this should not be seen as a betrayal, but as a "perfection" of the socialist revolution.

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In a statement blasted by Maduro, Spain's former prime minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero said that dialogue in Venezuela "could bring an end to the grave crisis". Inflation and homicide rates are among the world's highest and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves.

The run up to the election has not been the peaceful campaign Maduro would have hoped for.

The government has threatened to arrest anyone who takes part in election day protests with prison terms up to 10 years. "This violates the human rights which have been enshrined in the constitution".

Venezuela will hold on Sunday an election of the members of the National Constituent Assembly, a new 545-strong legislative body with the power to amend the constitution, despite the vote against the decision to hold such election in the opposition's so-called popular referendum on July 16, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

For more on the Assembly vote in Venezuela, CGTN's Susan Roberts spoke with Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies Gabriel Hetland from the State University of NY at Albany.

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