Anti-government protesters in Venezuela have staged a fresh protest rally in the capital Caracas, crowding into roads toward the neighboring state of Vargas in cars, on motorcycles and bicycles, and even horseback.
The protesters clogged roads during the rally on Saturday, prompting police to fire tear gas to disperse them.
Protests were also held in other cities.
Meanwhile, President Nicolas Maduro, in a speech on Saturday, said the ongoing politico-economic crisis and the division in the country would be resolved by the nation’s participation in an election to pick members of a panel to write a new constitution, a government plan that has itself stirred tensions.
“I am just waiting for the day that the National Electoral Council sets the date for electing the national constituent assembly so people can come out and do justice with their votes,” Maduro said in the televised speech.
The 500 members of the proposed constituent assembly, who would be elected in a “direct and secret” vote, will be tasked with rewriting the country’s current constitution.
Maduro confirmed that at least half of the members of the constituent assembly would be chosen by popular vote, and the other half, by social sectors including laborers and farmers’ syndicates.
It is not clear what specific changes Maduro and his allies plan to bring about by rewriting the constitution, but he has insisted that a new constitution is needed “to restore peace” and stop the opposition from carrying out a “coup d’etat.”
The opposition, which has refused to join the constitution-rewriting bid, says the move would give Maduro an excuse to put off regional elections scheduled for this year and a presidential election that was to be held in 2018.
Maduro’s government blames the Unites States for the unrest in the country. The president himself has claimed that a US-backed “armed insurgency” is seeking to oust him from power.
Opposition forces call Maduro a dictator who is responsible for the severe economic crisis.
The recent wave of unrest has left at least 38 people dead.