Venezuelan protesters clash with police

2016-05-18 23:10
Public outrage has spilled onto the streets of Venezuela with planned nationwide protests marking a new low point in Maduro's unpopular rule. (Federico Parra, AF)

Public outrage has spilled onto the streets of Venezuela with planned nationwide protests marking a new low point in Maduro's unpopular rule. (Federico Parra, AF)

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Caracas - Venezuelan police in riot gear clashed on Wednesday with thousands of protesters trying to reach the headquarters of the country's electoral body to demand a referendum to recall unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

The anti-government protest was the third in a week, and came days after the socialist president declared a state of emergency in the economically struggling country. He gave himself decree powers for 60 days.

Thousands of people turned out for the march in downtown Caracas on Wednesday, but police blocked the route. A small group tried to break through and was turned back by tear gas.

On Tuesday, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on the country to reject the extra powers granted Maduro.

"If Maduro wants to apply this decree, he needs to start preparing tanks and war planes, because he'll have to apply it by force," Capriles said.

The country has seen constant small-scale protests in recent weeks against widespread water and electricity cuts.

The opposition roiled the country with bloody nationwide protests in 2014. But protests have tended to be small and peaceful since then.

A majority of the country wants Maduro out, according to national polls. Venezuelans overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in congressional elections in December, but state institutions have blocked the opposition-controlled congress from passing any legislation.

With congress unable to push through legislation, opposition leaders have begun turning their attention to the streets and the recall referendum as their best option to exert political pressure.

Read more on:    venezuela

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