Published: Mon, July 31, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Violence as opposition boycotts Venezuelan election

Violence as opposition boycotts Venezuelan election

The country's president, Nicolas Maduro, widely disliked for overseeing an economic collapse during his four years in office, has promised the constitutional assembly will restore peace after months of opposition protests during which more than 115 people have been killed.

There have been reports of sporadic looting and clashes between protesters manning barricades of tree branches and barbed wire since the demonstration ban was put in place.

He called the vote "the most important election held in Venezuela's political system".

The Swiss Foreign ministry has said it is "deeply concerned" about the current situation in Venezuela and that the election of a new constituent assembly in the country should be scrapped.

"I'm here because I'm hoping for housing", said Luisa Marquez, a 46-year-old hairdresser. President Donald Trump has warned of "strong and swift economic actions" if Maduro proceeds with his plans.

As well as Pineda, a 61-year-old nurse lost his life after being shot near a church just a few hundred feet from the centre where Maduro voted.

"We've stoically withstood the terrorist, criminal violence", Maduro said.

Colombia's president says he will not recognize the results of Sunday's election in Venezuela for a special assembly to rewrite the struggling nation's constitution.

Accompanied by state media and close advisors, Maduro voted at 6.05am local time - far earlier and less publicly than in previous elections. "Hopefully the world will respectfully extend its arms toward our country".

The opposition, other Latin American nations, the United States and the European Union see the new body as a tool to crush democracy in the oil-rich country, where the opposition controls the National Assembly. "The people are not going to give up the streets until this terrible government goes", one 54-year-old militant, Carlos Zambrano, told AFP.

He is attempting to bolster his power by creating a new assembly which will tear up the constitution and effectively create a one-party state.

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with opposition leaders, and on July 26, the USA added 13 senior Venezuelan officials to its sanctions list as part of efforts to deter the constitution rewrite. "All the criminals will go to prison for the crimes they've committed".

Venezuelan prosecutors say one of the candidates running in the country's assembly election has been fatally shot by yet unknown gunmen. "I ask God for his blessings so the people can freely exercise their democratic right to vote", he said. Vice President Mike Pence promised on Friday that the USA would take "strong and swift economic actions" if the vote went ahead.

First, the Supreme Court was packed with loyalists of the president, and several opposition lawmakers were blocked from taking their seats.

Unlike during the unofficial referendum against the assembly earlier this month, when over seven million Venezuelans rejected Maduro's assembly, entire districts and many of Caracas' main thoroughfares were deserted on Sunday.

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