There have been more clashes between opposition activists and National Guard troops in Venezuela. They came as President Nicolas Maduro chaired a meeting discussing his plans for a new popular assembly.
The opposition which boycotted the gathering, claim 116 people were injured during the latest confrontation on the streets of the capital Caracas.
Demonstrators are seeking early elections to remove Maduro and put an end to a devastating economic crisis that has caused widespread food and medicine shortages, huge queues at shops, soaring prices, and increasing hunger in the nation of 30 million people.
Decrying Maduro as an autocrat who has wrecked the oil-rich nation’s economy, opposition leader Henrique Capriles struggled against the effects of tear gas to rally disaffected government supporters.
“I invite them to join us in forming a front to defend the constitution. Everyone who voted for Chavez who is unhappy today, who doesn’t believe in this government and agrees with us that this country needs change, I invite them to join in the front in defence of the constitution.”
The successor to President Hugo Chavez claims his enemies are seeking a coup with US support. He is setting up a “ constituent assembly” with power to rewrite the constitution and shake up public powers.
At least 37 people have been killed since the unrest started in early April. The dead include protesters, government sympathizers, bystanders, and security forces.