Plan for Venezuelan Constitution hits snag
CARACAS • President Nicolas Maduro's plan for an elected assembly to draw up a new Venezuelan Constitution was facing headwinds, when opposition parties refused to join the process amid continuing violent protests against him.
Although several opposition leaders had separately rejected Mr Maduro's plan for a "people's" assembly, the centre-right Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) formally announced on Sunday that it would not participate.
MUD maintains that Mr Maduro - whose leadership is rejected by seven of 10 Venezuelans, according to polls - is trying to avoid a general election, the main demand of the opposition protests since April 1.
Syrian rebels evacuate under deal with govt
BEIRUT • Hundreds of Syrian rebels began leaving the besieged Damascus district of Barzeh yesterday as part of an evacuation deal with the government.
State television said fighters and their relatives had started departing Barzeh for the rebel-held Idlib province in north-west Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has promoted the use of such evacuations, along with what his government calls "reconciliation" deals for rebel-held areas that surrender to the government, as a way of reducing bloodshed.