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article imageTop Venezuela official calls for early legislative elections

By AFP     Feb 20, 2018 in World

A top official of Venezuela's ruling Socialist party on Tuesday proposed holding legislative elections more than two years early to coincide with a presidential vote in April.

The vote for the opposition-dominated parliament is scheduled for late 2020 but Diosdado Cabello, the party's number two, said the legislative polls could be held on April 22, the same day as the presidential election.

The powerful Cabello told state television VTV he would make a formal proposal to the Constituent Assembly, which President Nicolas Maduro has used to sideline the opposition and strengthen his grip on power.

"This is a decision for the National Constituent Assembly," Cabello said.

Maduro has already brought forward the presidential poll by several months despite opposition claims that conditions do not exist to guarantee a free and fair vote.

Leading opponents have been barred from standing in the election in which Maduro is seeking a second six-year term, despite a worsening political and economic crisis.

Analysts say Maduro's government wants to bring forward the legislative poll for the same reason as the presidential election, to take advantage of divisions within the opposition coalition.

The opposition wrested control of parliament in December 2015 elections, but has seen its power usurped by the Constituent Assembly, which has assumed full legislative powers in Venezuela since it was created by Maduro last year.

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