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article imageOpposition leader appeals to military in Venezuela confrontation

By AFP     Jul 26, 2017 in Politics

A prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, in a video made while under house arrest, called Wednesday on the military to withdraw its support for a government plan to rewrite the constitution.

Leopoldo Lopez, placed under house arrest earlier this month after nearly three and a half years in a military prison, made the appeal hours before the start of a 48-hour general strike against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

"I invite you to not be accomplices to the annihilation of the republic, to a constitutional fraud, to repression," Lopez said in a video made from his home and posted on Twitter.

Maduro has called elections for Sunday to choose a 545-member Constituent Assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.

The opposition, fearing a power grab by the embattled president, has fiercely resisted the plan and is pressing for early presidential elections as a way out of the crisis.

The military, along with the courts, has been a key pillar of support for Maduro through months of deadly street protests and amid an economic collapse that has led to widespread shortages.

Lopez called on Venezuelans to keep up their protests, insisting the government would not succeed "because of the determination, strength and conviction each of you have shown."

Accusing the government of seeking to eliminate the democratic state, he said Venezuelans had to stop it through "peaceful struggle and a deep commitment to conquer democracy, peace."

More than 100 people have died since April 1 in nearly daily clashes between protesters and security forces.

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