Opposition protests over Maduro referendum

May 12, 2016, 12:02 AM EDT
Protest in Caracas in 2014
(Source: Andrés E. Azpúrua/flickr)

As a protest march against President Nicolas Maduro turned violent in Caracas, Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas and blocked roads to rein in fiery demonstrators who were heading to the office of the country’s election commission.

The march, which was staged by the opposition M.U.D. (Democratic Unity Roundtable) party, aimed at pressuring the election authorities to expedite the process of a recall referendum against the president.

The opposition, which blames Venezuela’s crippled economy on the socialist policies of Maduro, had earlier submitted a petition signed by 1.85 million voters to the election authorities in a bid to initiate referendum against the president, writes the BBC. In the latest round of demonstrations, the opposition called for a speedy verification of signatures.

Opposition congress President Henry Ramos denounced the use of force on what he termed a peaceful march, notes ABC News.

In the state of Tachira, protesters carried placards that read, “We don't want to do die of hunger,” writes Al Jazeera. The opposition alleges that a biased election commission is deliberately delaying the process in the ruling party’s favor. If a successful recall referendum extends to next year, the vice president -- a loyal member of the governing United Socialist Party -- would take over as president.