Demonstrators clash with police during rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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The opposition immediately rejected the idea because the body drafting the new charter would not be the result of a popular election but rather be composed of workers and farmers.It was likely to sharpen international concerns over Venezuela's adherence to democracy and fears it was slipping over a precipice to civil conflict.Maduro said he was invoking his power to create a 500-member constituent assembly representing a "working class base" and local councils to rewrite the constitution -- cutting out the Congress.Maduro's move mirrored that of his late Socialist predecessor Hugo Chavez, who in 1999 had a 131-member Constituent Assembly of various representatives draw up Venezuela's current constitution.Maduro, in contrast, is disapproved of by seven in 10 Venezuelans according to pollsters Venebarometro.Analysts say street rallies are one of the few means the opposition has left of pressuring Maduro.Maduro initially voiced support for the pope's offer.Venezuela last week said it was quitting the Organization of American States after it and other international bodies expressed concern about the country's adherence to democracy.
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