Venezuela opposition appeals to army

Tom MarkLast Update : Wednesday 18 May 2016 - 1:21 AM
Venezuela opposition appeals to army

Venezuela opposition leader Capriles says army must choose

Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda state and former presidential candidate, 29 April 2016Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Capriles (right) has said the time was coming for the army to take a position

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has urged the army to choose whether it is “with the constitution or with (President Nicolas) Maduro”, after a state of emergency was declared.

President Maduro has announced a 60-day emergency, giving soldiers and police wider powers to deal with the country’s spiralling economic crisis.

Mr Capriles said the decree gave the president unconstitutional powers.

He called on Venezuelans to ignore it and take to the streets on Wednesday.

“We, Venezuelans, will not accept this decree. This is Maduro putting himself above the constitution,” Mr Capriles told journalists.

“To impose this, he’d better start preparing to deploy the war tanks and military jets,” he added.

“And I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro,” he said.

‘No referendum’

Mr Capriles said the opposition was not calling for a military coup, but instead seeking a legal and constitutional way of ousting Mr Maduro through a recall referendum.

The state of emergency is in place for 60 days and can be renewed for another 60.

Hours after Mr Capriles’s press conference, Mr Maduro spoke to foreign journalists.

He said the opposition had missed the deadline for the referendum and falsified signatures.

Opposition politicians began the process two weeks ago by handing in a petition signed by 1.85 million people, well above the 1% of voters on the electoral roll needed to kick-start the process.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption Mr Maduro accused foreign media of taking part in an aggressive campaign against him

The constitution says that a referendum will be called to decide if the president remains in power if a second petition is signed by at least 20% of the electorate, or nearly four million people.

But the government has already made it clear that the referendum will not go ahead.

‘Foreign intervention plot’

Mr Maduro accused the United States of leading a plot to deploy foreign troops in his country, and force him from office.

He told foreign journalists that an American military plane entered Venezuelan airspace twice last week without authorisation.

Politicians and media from outside the country have been trying to sow chaos in Venezuela to justify intervention, he said.

“This whole campaign, has a centre. There is an axis: Madrid, Miami and Washington.

“But there is a centre of planning, of direction, lobbying, strength and funding. That centre is located in Washington, said Mr Maduro.

He promised to fight back and to do everything in his power “to continue winning the battle for internal peace”.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption Power cuts, which the government attributes to a drought, have hit the economy even harder

Mr Maduro also made reference to the recent suspension of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to face an impeachment trial.

He described the process as a coup, backed by foreign powers: “Wherever you can’t govern, divide. They created chaos. Now they are coming after Venezuela.”

Venezuela is facing a serious economic crisis, with high inflation and shortage of many basic goods.

Mr Maduro accuses the country’s elite of boycotting the economy to achieve its political goals.

The opposition blames the mistaken policies of Mr Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for the crisis.

Mr Maduro was elected in 2013 for a six-year term, following the death of Mr Chavez.

Source: BBC World

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