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Venezuela's opposition launches 'mechanisms of change' to oust Maduro

The opposition coalition has called on citizens to "rescue democracy" by taking to the streets. But the Socialist Party's number two says their efforts are a front to "bring about a coup supported by US imperialism."

The Venezuelan opposition alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) launched a campaign Tuesday that seeks to oust Socialist President Nicolas Maduro through demonstrations, a recall referendum on his presidency or constitutional amendment.

"The MUD has taken the unanimous decision to call on the Venezuelan people to launch the largest popular pressure movement that has ever existed, to activate all - I repeat, all - mechanisms for change," said Jesus Torrealba, the alliance's executive secretary.

He told reporters that the constitution had been "kidnapped by the regime" after the Supreme Court struck down the opposition coalition's two-thirds parliamentary majority by declaring three opposition lawmakers unfit for the position.

The court's decision was in response to criminal complaints filed against the three lawmakers by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela after MUD beat the Socialists in December's elections.

"In the face of this reality, (the opposition) calls for an intense and peaceful national movement to win back the full force of the constitution and rescue democracy," Torrealba added.

According to an MUD statement, the opposition alliance is calling for the first wave of protest rallies to hit the streets of Caracas on Saturday.

President Maduro assumed office after popular Socialist leader Hugo Chavez died in 2013

President Maduro assumed office after popular Socialist leader Hugo Chavez died in 2013

A coup in disguise?

Meanwhile, the Socialist Party's powerful Diosdado Cabello, a former head of the National Assembly, said the opposition's efforts aim to subvert the state.

"They want to organize street rallies to generate violence and bring about a coup supported by US imperialism," Cabello said earlier this week.

Maduro's Socialist Party, which gained power under the late Hugo Chavez, has faced increased public pressure over an ailing economy, which has led to food shortages and high inflation.

Watch video 02:05

Venezuela: World's most miserable economy

ls/jil (Reuters, AFP, EFE)

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