CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela’s political crisis and the vote for a constitutional assembly (all times local):
The U.S. State Department is officially condemning Venezuela government for holding a vote to elect a powerful National Constituent Assembly, calling it a step toward authoritarian rule.
The new assembly would concentrate near-total power in the hands of socialist President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters. In a statement released Sunday night, the State Department says the new body seems designed to “undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.”
The U.S. had already joined Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Panama in saying it would not recognize the vote results. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted that earlier that the vote was a “sham election” which takes Venezuela “another step toward dictatorship.”
The State Department says Washington will “continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela.”
Venezuelan opposition leaders are urging their countrymen to protest Monday in the capital against the constituent assembly expected to take power and in homage to those killed in demonstrations against the government.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says the political foes of socialist President Nicolas Maduro also plan to mount a protest on the day that the new assembly takes office. That is supposed to take place within 72 hours of the final results being announced from Sunday’s election.
Organizers with Venezuela’s opposition say 15 people were killed across the nation Sunday while the vote was underway. The office of Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has confirmed on Twitter that it is investigating at least seven deaths.
Opposition leaders are blaming state authorities for the violence.
In a briefing on state-run television, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the military was not responsible for any deaths.
More than 120 people…