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    Opposition supporters use a shield reading Justice as they clash with security forces during a rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela April 26, 2017

    Canada Urges Venezuela to Set Electoral Calendar Without Delay - Ministry

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    Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said that Ottawa is calling on Caracas to promptly hold elections amid the current protests in the country.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) Ottawa is calling on Caracas to promptly hold elections amid the current protests in the country, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said in a statement on Thursday.

    "We call on the Government of Venezuela to release all political prisoners and set an electoral calendar without delay. Free and fair elections including all of Venezuela’s eligible voters are required to solve the country’s crisis," Freeland said.

    On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his decision to call the constituent assembly to amend the constitution. The country's opposition criticized the step, accusing Maduro of staging a coup.

    "We urge the government and opposition to address their differences," Freeland stated."Canada is very troubled by the announcement by Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro that he will establish a constituent assembly to change the Venezuelan constitution, which will further escalate tensions in the country."

    In April, Maduro announced that Venezuela was withdrawing from the Organization of American States (OAS) after its governing body voted in favor of calling an urgent meeting of OAS foreign ministers to discuss the political crisis in the country.

    Maduro described the vote as "interventional abuse" and promised to defend the country’s dignity. He said the two-year withdrawal process would be sped up.

    Venezuela entered turbulent times in January, 2016 when a new legislature was elected and relations between Maduro and the parliament became strained.

    In late March, the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to restrict the power of the state’s National Assembly, but despite the fact that the decision was canceled, supporters of the opposition-controlled parliament, striving for the court members’ dismissal, took to the streets on April 4, marking the start of a series of protests.

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