Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro warned Thursday that state governors elected in regional votes in October “must submit” to the will of a newly-created Constituent Assembly or they will be dismissed.
The controversial new body was elected in July despite widespread opposition from the West and major Latin American nations, which called its formation a blatant power-grab by Maduro.
Packed with Maduro allies, the Constituent Assembly superseded the opposition-dominated national assembly.
“All of the governors who will be elected must submit to the Constituent Assembly, or else they will be immediately dismissed,” he said in a speech to the body.
“We will have free, direct, secret and universal elections to select the governors. Democracy and freedom prevail in Venezuela,” said Maduro, who weathered a wave of opposition protests that left 125 people dead between April and July.
Regional elections to choose 23 state governors are due to be held in October but precise dates have not yet been announced.
Opposition lawmaker Vicente Bello said two possible dates are October 15 or October 22.
The opposition had refused to participate in the election of members of the Constituent Assembly, but decided to contest the regional polls.
Oil-rich Venezuela is facing a growing economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine as it faces the prospect of default to its Russian and Chinese creditors.