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Venezuela's opposition prepares popular consultation to reject Maduro

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets delegates after addressing the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition is organizing a popular consultation to repudiate the government of President Nicolas Maduro, a process expected to be held around the Dec. 6 congressional election that the opposition is boycotting.

Maduro’s adversaries say the parliamentary vote is rigged in favor of the ruling Socialist Party, and most opposition parties have ruled out fielding candidates.

The consultation will likely help the opposition demonstrate the broad rejection of Maduro after years of economic crisis, but does not by itself offer a clear path toward a change of government or resolution of the economic situation.

“This is, I want to emphasize, the last resource we have in the constitution,” said Blanca Marmol, a former supreme court magistrate who is helping organize the effort, in a press conference alongside other citizen activists.

“We have been fighting for 20 years, making use of all the resources that the constitution establishes, which have been systematically snatched (from us).”

The group has not yet determined the logistics or the exact date. They are seeking to activate physical centers and are also studying the possibility for virtual participation, which would be crucial to ensure participation of some 5 million Venezuelans who have emigrated to escape the economic crisis.

The idea of a popular consultation was first proposed in August by opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela’s legitimate president following Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election.

The term of the current opposition-run assembly expires in January.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Richard Chang