Venezuela’s Maduro calls for new constitution as protests rage

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CARACAS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a new constitution on Monday as he fights to quell a crisis that has led to more than a month of protests against him and deadly street violence. The opposition immediately rejected the idea because the body drafting the new charter would not be the result of a popular election but rather be composed of workers and farmers. Maduro’s announcement, to thousands of supporters in Caracas marking May Day, came as security forces sprayed tear gas and water cannon at anti-government demonstrators elsewhere in the capital. It was likely to sharpen international concerns over Venezuela’s adherence to democracy and fears it was slipping over a precipice to civil conflict. The opposition slammed the tactic as a “coup d’etat” and urged protesters to “block the streets” from Tuesday. It said it was organizing a “mega protest” for Wednesday.

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