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The Chavismo decides to hold presidential elections before 30 April

The Chavismo decides to hold presidential elections before 30 April

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has said he is "ready to be a candidate" after the country's constituent assembly unanimously voted to hold a presidential election by the end of April.

Last year, Venezuela witnessed its worst economic crisis when people protested in huge numbers against food shortage, hyperinflation and declining oil production.

Speculation has been growing in recent weeks that elections would be held earlier to take advantage of divisions within the opposition, which has been struggling to capitalize on growing discontent with Maduro.

"If they attack us, it's because we're on the right path", Diosdado Cabello, a Socialist Party leader, told members of the Constituent Assembly.

US officials told reporters in a conference call that the executive order did not target the Venezuelan people or economy and stressed that upcoming legislative elections should be held without intimidation of government opponents.

In response, Maduro said he would on Tuesday ask the National Assembly, controlled by the ruling Socialists, to grant him decree powers - for the second time in his almost two-year rule through a so-called Enabling Law, which critics blast as a power grab. The National Electoral Council is stacked with Maduro allies while the government controls much of the media and far outspends the opposition during campaigns.

With the presidential election now only weeks away and numerous most popular opposition leaders either imprisoned, barred from running for office or in exile, the opposition will most likely struggle to find a candidate who can present even the slightest challenge to Mr.

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"We do not recognise the national constituency assembly". Maduro, ignoring threats of worldwide censure, plowed ahead with the vote for the Constituent Assembly last July and neutered the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

"These are not elections, it's a military occupation with a fraudulent election board", said hardline opposition activist Maria Corina Machado, referring to the armed forces' major role in government and the board's past pro-Maduro stance.

It is the closest that Maduro - who assumed power in April 2013 after Chavez died in office from cancer - has come to declaring his candidacy outright.

The official notification of the sanctions said intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez was responsible for "serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, inhuman and degrading treatment, and torture".

The Chavismo will go to presidentials with Maduro again as a candidate. "Certainly the people would have to decide".

"The politicians abandoned us", the masked student said.


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