Monday, 21 August, 2017

Opposition in Venezuela Vows to Continue Resistance Despite Controversial Election Defeat

Reuters Reuters
Erik Tate | 02 August, 2017, 00:42

Lopez's lawyer Juan Gutierrez, wrote on Twitter that "there is no legal justification to revoke the house arrest measure".

Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were already under house arrest when they were apparently detained in the early hours of Tuesday.

"They took Leopoldo Lopez and the mayor Ledezma to scare us, and we despair", said the opposition mp Freddy Guevara, national coordinator of the party, Mr. Lopez.

On Sunday, Venezuela held an election to select members of the Constituent Assembly which will be involved in rewriting the country's constitution. "We hold the regime responsible for his life and physical integrity".

The measures were unusual in that they targeted a sitting head of state, but their reach was mostly symbolic, freezing any USA assets Maduro might have and banning people under U.S. jurisdiction from dealing with him. Ledezma had been allowed to serve his term at home since April 2015 for health reasons.

Ledezma's children denounced the arrest on Twitter and appealed to the global community for help.

Lopez, a descendent of South American liberator Simon Bolívar and Venezuela's first President Cristobal Mendoza, was released from military prison to house arrest in July. He had been convicted of instigating violence during protests against Maduro in 2014 that left 43 people dead.

On the eve of the planned installation of this Constituent, Leopoldo Lopez, 46 years, founder of the party Voluntad Popular (popular Will, right), and the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, 62 years old, have been arrested according to their families in the middle of the night at home, where they were under house arrest after having already been jailed -for up to nearly three and a half years for Mr. Lopez.

Opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara said the arrests were aimed at "frightening us and demoralizing us".

Venezuela has undergone more than three months of almost daily protests.

Can't say if 39 Indians alive: Iraqi minister
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal MP Chandu Majra sought answers from the government on the issue in Parliament on Monday. Iraqi forces liberated Mosul after 266 days of fierce battles, ending three years of Islamic State rule.

Despite growing worldwide criticism, Mr Maduro has said he has no intention of deviating from his plans to rewrite the constitution. The next one is scheduled for 2018.

The newly elected constituent assembly was to be sworn in in early August.

The official result would mean the ruling party won more support than it had in any national election since 2013, despite a cratering economy, spiraling inflation, shortages of medicine and malnutrition. The opposition has called a big rally for that day. He's called Maduro a "bad leader" and a "dictator".

On Monday, U.S. officials slapped sanctions on Maduro himself, freezing any U.S. assets he might have and barring Americans from doing business with him.

"I will not obey imperial orders", he said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the new assembly "is created to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination".

Maduro's own attorney general, Luisa Ortega―who broke with him months ago over his policies―also said she would not acknowledge the body, calling it part of the president's "dictatorial ambition".

American officials had hinted initial US sanctions could affect Venezuela's oil industry, but later they said the Trump administration was holding off due to possible complications, including some involving subsidiaries.

National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena announced just before midnight that turnout in Sunday's vote was 41.53 percent, or 8,089,320 people.

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