- Title: Constituent election stokes fears for democracy in divided Venezuela
- Date: 28th July 2017
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (FILE) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO WAVING A VENEZUELAN FLAG DURING A RALLY MADURO WAVING FLAG WITH FIRST LADY CILIA FLORES AND SOCIALIST PARTY DEPUTY, DIOSDADO CABELLO, STANDING ALONGSIDE
- Embargoed: 11th August 2017 14:27
- Keywords: Venezuela Nicolas Maduro constituent assembly vote election
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RMRN7R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: With just days to go, Venezuela is bracing for a controversial constituent assembly election which has stirred up deep-rooted divisions in the South American country.
President Nicolas Maduro has insisted the vote will unite the OPEC nation, but the opposition decries it as a means to solidify socialist rule at the expense of democracy.
The vote on Sunday (July 30) will choose members of a Constituent Assembly which will have power to rewrite the constitution and override the current opposition-led legislature. But a recent opinion poll by company Datanalisis reported 85 percent of Venezuelans oppose President Nicolas Maduro's plans for a constituent assembly. It also put Maduro's approval rating at 21.9 percent.
Some analysts believe the constituent assembly election is simply designed to strengthen the president's hand over the country in the face of fierce opposition.
Maduro has vowed to push ahead with Sunday's (July 30) vote and says it will bring peace to Venezuela after some four months of anti-government protests that have killed at least 108 people. Labelling his rivals as usurpers backed by an imperialist United States, the president has crushed hopes that a negotiated solution will resolve political deadlock in the country.
Venezuela is also wracked by shortages in food and medicine, a flailing economy and widespread crime. Critics of the Constituent Assembly contend that the new body will not address grassroots problems affecting the country's 30 million citizens.
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