More than 50 people have died in almost two months of almost daily protests in Venezuela.
The country now has the worst inflation in the world, recorded at over 700 per cent and protesters are blaming President Nicolas Maduro, Mr Chavez's successor, for the dire economic situation, food shortages and rising crime.
A medical professional wears his scrubs during an anti-government protest demanding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro open a so-called humanitarian corridor for the delivery of medicine and food aid, in Caracas, Venezuela, .
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The chief of Venezuela's electoral council says the embattled South American nation jolted by almost two months of opposition protests will hold regional elections in December. At least 53 people have been killed as a result of the unrest that began in early April.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.
The decision is in accordance with article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national constituent assembly with the objective of "transforming the state".
Backers of socialist President Nicolas Maduro gathered in the center of the capital Caracas, waving red, yellow and blue national flags.
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"Let's go to elections now!" he said, before detailing how the new assembly would be partially elected by votes at a municipal level and partly by different groups, including workers, farmers, students and indigenous people. She added that elections for representatives of the National Constituent Assembly are expected to be held in mid-July.
Maduro denounced "fascist" elements within the protest movement for driving the persistent street clashes and likened government opponents to Nazis.
Maduro accused protesters Sunday of setting fire to a government supporter, saying what he calls "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root inside the opposition's ranks and contributing to a unsafe spiral of violence in the two-month anti-government protest movement.
Pro-government supporters in Venezuela have marched in support of their president's plans for a new constituent assembly.
Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader elected in 2013, paints the opposition as coup-mongers seeking to stoke violence and overthrow his "21st century Socialism".
Venezuela's state prosecutor also warned that Maduro's plan also risked deepening the crisis.
In the lower middle-class Caracas neighborhood of El Paraiso, masked men on Monday night shot up an apartment building and parked cars in what one resident, who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisals, said was retaliation for barricades set up nearby by opposition sympathizers. Some 17 people have been arrested. Police fired tear gas to drive them back, in scenes that have become familiar after weeks of unrest.