Maduro calls for talks with Venezuela opposition

Maduro calls for talks with Venezuela opposition
# 28 July 2017 04:03 (UTC +04:00)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for talks with the opposition coalition to resolve the country’s political crisis, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

The unexpected announcement came less than 72 hours before a controversial vote on the National Constituent Assembly that would give Maduro’s government the power to rewrite the Constitution.

“I propose to the opposition … to install in the next few hours a table of dialogue, a national agreement and reconciliation, a national table of understanding, to talk about peace and the country issues,” Maduro said during a pro-government march in Caracas, adding he would like the “peace table” to be launched before the vote Sunday.

Earlier Thursday, the government announced protests that could “affect” the controversial Constituent Assembly vote would be banned.

“National meetings and demonstrations, concentrations of people and any similar acts that may disturb or affect the normal development of the electoral process are prohibited throughout the country," Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said at a news conference in Caracas.

Reverol said the measure would be applied from midnight Friday until Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Violators will be "punished with imprisonment for 5 to 10 years," Reverol warned.

The protest ban was issued on the second of a two-day national strike organized by the opposition in an attempt to thwart Maduro’s plans for the vote..

Opposition parties have said the vote is a “fraud” to establish a “dictatorship” and planned massive marches in Caracas for Friday.

One congressman and opposition leader said the protest ban would not prevent Venezuelans from occupying the streets this weekend.

“The dictatorship says we can’t protest from tomorrow. So? Tomorrow we will no longer take the streets in Caracas but in all Venezuela!”, Guevara wrote on Twitter, just minutes after Reverol’s speech.

Venezuela has grappled with deadly political and economic crises as low crude oil prices have forced the government to cut back or eliminate its socialist programs.

The crises have fueled public anger and fed massive protests that have left at least 100 dead since April.