Both gov't, opposition in Venezuela prepare for controversial elections

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-26 14:59:25|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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CARACAS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that his country is in a "decisive week" for peace, ahead of elections for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on the weekend.

"We are in a decisive week so that Venezuela definitely takes the path of peace," said Maduro in a public address in Caracas.

According to the head of state, Venezuelans will choose between "peace or war," "the future or the past," "independence or colonialism," and "the sovereign power of the people or the oligarchic, imperialist coup."

On July 30, about 20 million venezuelans are invited to elect 545 members of the ANC, who will draft a new constitution.

However, the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) has been relentless in protesting the move, which it sees as a power grab by Maduro.

Street protests since April against the Maduro government have claimed at least 102 lives.

Venezuela's attorney-general Luisa Ortega Diaz, who has lodged two unsuccessful appeals against the ANC to the Supreme Court, accused President Maduro of seeking to rewrite the constitution in order to prolong his stay in office.

While Ortega Diaz was appointed by the regime, she has now become one of Maduro's principal critics, slamming his call for a National Constituent Assembly as unconstitutional.

On May 1, Maduro called for the July 30 ANC, reckoning it as the only way to lead the country out of the current political and economic crisis.

However, in an interview with daily El Nacional on Tuesday, Ortega Diaz said the leader wanted to "keep the people subjugated, to plague them with hunger and misery, repression, anguish and despair."

The country's chief prosecutor dismissed the ANC as "deceitful, as it will not resolve the major problems of food, of hospitals, of insecurity."

She pointed out that the government has made no announcements on what actions it will take to resolve these severe problems.

"The ANC has been promoted under threat," Ortega Diaz said, warning that if it takes place, there would be more misery, insecurity, uncertainty, despair, sadness, and oppression.

The attorney-general, who turned on Maduro three months ago, added she would do "everything in my power" to disrupt it.

Maduro's government has responded by labelling Ortega Diaz a "traitor" and has vowed to review all the staff from her office "one by one" after the July 30 election.

A motion to dismiss Ortega Diaz has also been lodged at the Supreme Court, which is accused of favoring the government.

The clash between the government and the opposition became a constitutional crisis since January 2016, when the latter won control of the National Assembly and ended a 17-year control by former president Hugo Chavez and his successor Maduro.

In mid-July, the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable held its own unofficial referendum to protest the ANC, in which it said over 7 million Venezuelans turned out to reject any attempt to rewrite the constitution.