Colombia leader won't recognize Venezuela's vote

5 Killed in Violence during Venezuelan Opposition's General Strike against Maduro Regime

"The elections are on Sunday and we really don't know what will happen", said one, Maria de los Angeles Pichardo, who left with her husband and son. The opposition refused to do this as well as stop supporting sanctions by the United States on the government, another Maduro demand.

As of Friday, at least 113 people have died in protests and other incidents linked to the unrest, the attorney general's office has said, often without elaborating on who was responsible for their deaths.

It called mass protests for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Romero classified Arteaga's detention as arbitrary and said he was set to appear in court Saturday.

Despite four months of deadly protests and the threat of US sanctions, Venezuela on Saturday found itself 24 hours away from a consolidation of government power that appeared certain to drag the OPEC nation deeper into a crisis that has entire neighbourhoods battling police and paramilitaries while the poor root for scraps in piles of trash. Prison terms of between five and 10 years could be imposed on those contravening the ban، Interior Minister Néstor Reverol said on Thursday. But as many as half of all Venezuelans support neither the government nor the opposition - a phenomenon evident in the glum paralysis that has gripped much of the country as protesters and police wage nightly battles.

The opposition has called for nationwide demonstrations in defiance of the government ahead of Sunday's ballot.

Santos says he will continue advocating for a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's almost four months of political upheaval that has left at least 113 people dead. "And that card is the National Constituent Assembly", he said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of opposition parties, organized a 48-hour general strike in the city of Caracas, leaving the streets empty, stores closed, and pausing daily life in the capital.

Air France halted flights to Venezuela ahead of a legislative vote that has led to violent protests across the country, reported SputnikNews.

Maduro's critics were planning to pile more pressure on the unpopular leftist leader by holding roadblocks across the nation dubbed "The Takeover of Venezuela" on Friday.

Maduro called the USA punishment "illegal, insolent, and unprecedented".

Voters will choose 545 members of the National Constituent Assembly, or ANC, which would become the highest authority in Venezuela.

Colombia says it will grant temporary legal status to more than 150,000 Venezuelans who have overstayed visas due to the deteriorating political and economic crisis in their home country.

US sanctions against Venezuelan officials include a key figure in some of the oil-for-cash deals with China that are central for the survival of Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Maduro is aligned with the political movement of Hugo Chavez, the President from 1999 until his death in 2013.

"Tomorrow, every Venezuelan should prepare for the intense agenda coming [the government's] way", Guevara said Thursday. Under constitutional changes Chavez ushered in, presidents can run for an unlimited number of six-year terms.

The opposition-led National Assembly, meanwhile, has challenged the government by appointing 33 supreme court judges to rival ones loyal to Maduro.

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