Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has cast his vote for a constitutional super-body expected to hand sweeping new powers to ruling Socialist Party officials and potentially extend their unpopular rule in the convulsed OPEC nation.
Critics say the assembly will allow Maduro to rewrite electoral rules to prevent the socialists from being voted out.
This comes after four months of opposition protests during which more than 115 people have been killed.
Maduro played down the tensions within the country,
“We have stood strong during this global campaign and we have stood strong when dealing with the terrorist and criminal violence and here we are, a country at peace.”
Opposition parties are boycotting what they call a rigged election while their sympathisers plan demonstrations across the country during the day – raising the prospect of violent clashes with security forces.
The vote, which follows the postponement of regional elections and Maduro’s repeated refusal to heed decisions by Congress, has brought global condemnation.