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Venezuela: UN rights wing urges calm ahead of controversial weekend polls

Venezuela: UN rights wing urges calm ahead of controversial weekend polls

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro are calling for continued protests ahead of Sunday's controversial election, a day after demonstrators clashed with national guard troops in the capital in defiance of a protest ban.

"Here we are in the streets, just like the first day", opposition lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares said, urging people to reject Reverol's demonstration ban.

The opposition, which calls the election of the body a ploy by an unpopular "dictator" to cling to power, has called for a boycott of the vote. The neighboring country said it would give 150,000 Venezuelans who had overstayed permission to visit another three months before they had to leave.

Troops were sent throughout the country to secure preparations for Sunday's vote, Adm. Remigio Ceballos said.

Government officials and candidates for the Constituent Assembly wrapped up campaigning on Thursday with a rally in Caracas with Maduro.

Opposition parties are also concerned that Maduro will dissolve the National Assembly, which they control, while the constituent assembly does its work, although Maduro has not indicated he would, Main said.

A senior Trump administration official told Reuters this week that the administration would make good on Trump's threat to take action and would act "very quickly" on further sanctions if Maduro goes ahead with his plan.

Most of the deaths reported since anti-government protests began in April are of young men killed by gunfire. "If the USA wishes to help Venezuela resolve its political and economic crises, it needs to put aside talk of further sanctions and instead push both sides to reinitiate dialogue and support the ongoing efforts of former Spanish President Zapatero and Pope Francis to bring the two sides to the negotiating table".

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Opposition has called for a "Take Over of Venezuela" march on Friday against President Maduro's Constituent Assembly vote on Friday.

Amid a steep recession and triple-digit inflation, the bolivar currency weakened past 10,000 bolivars per USA dollar on the black market on Friday, having fallen more than 99 percent since Maduro came to power in April 2013. Many Venezuelans live hand-to-mouth and say they must keep working.

With private discussions reportedly failing, Venezuelan state media claimed Friday that Maduro has made a public plea for dialogue with the opposition.

Ramos and other opposition leaders say a new constitution proposed by Maduro is an illegal maneuver to sideline the opposition-controlled National Assembly and perpetuate chavismo - the political philosophy of Maduro's mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez.

It called mass protests for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. "We will respond with the TAKING OF VENEZUELA".

Colombia will continue to push and insist for a "peaceful solution, hopefully a fast and democratic one, so that the nation that we love - and I want to once again express my solidarity with the people of Venezuela - will soon come out from the darkness", Santos said. The decision was quickly reversed but it sparked a protest movement demanding a new presidential election.

The chief prosecutor's office has released little information about the victims of the unrest, but at least 44 are believed to have been shot while participating in protests. The extension lasts for 90 days and can be renewed for up to two years.


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