16:22 GMT +313 December 2019
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    Air France Grounds Venezuela Flights Ahead of Controversial Vote

    © AFP 2019 / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
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    Air France halted flights to Venezuela ahead of a legislative vote that has led to violent protests across the country.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — French flag carrier Air France on Friday halted flights to Venezuela ahead of a legislative vote that has led to violent protests across the country.

    "Given the current situation in Caracas, Venezuela, we had to suspend flights between Paris and Caracas from Sunday, July 30 until Tuesday, August 1," the airline said in a statement.

    An election to the constituent assembly has been called for this Sunday. The 545-seat legislature will have the power to rewrite the constitution.

    President Nicolas Maduro said this would bring peace to the South American country, but his opponents fear it will allow him to bypass the opposition-controlled parliament.

    More than 110 people have died in demonstrations that erupted nationwide after opposition leaders called their supporters to the streets in early April.

    The state prosecutor’s office said late on Friday 18-year-old Gustavo Villamizar had become the latest victim of protest violence. He was lethally shot at a rally in San Cristobal, the capital of the western Tachira state.

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