July 20, 2017 / 3:30 PM / in 2 years

Mexico urges Venezuela to suspend plans for constituent assembly

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s government on Thursday urged Venezuela’s government to suspend a planned July 30 vote to elect a constituent assembly with powers to rewrite the constitution and override all other institutions, including the current opposition-led legislature.

In a statement, the Mexican foreign ministry called on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to shelve the vote “and thereby open the door to a negotiation to resolve the serious democratic crisis Venezuela is going through.”

Mexico has taken an increasingly critical line with Maduro’s government in recent months, expressing alarm at the political unrest in the country and the state of democracy there. Maduro faces widespread foreign pressure to abort the constitutional assembly.

The tough Mexican line has helped it find common ground with the government of U.S. President Donald Trump, with whom Mexico is navigating a sensitive diplomatic phase due to the imminent renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Mexican government’s call adds to growing pressure on Maduro after more than seven million Venezuelans voted in an unofficial referendum at the weekend to repudiate his plans to rewrite the country’s constitution and create the new assembly.

The ministry said the referendum showed Venezuela was “deeply polarized” and that the planned assembly would only aggravate divisions and unrest in the country.

Mexico remained ready to assist in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the impasse in Venezuela, it added.

Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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