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Venezuelans gather signatures against Maduro

September 27, 2014

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Hardliner opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are beginning to collect signatures to force a constitutional assembly and remove the socialist leader before presidential elections in 2019.

The Popular Will party led by jailed activist Leopoldo Lopez is launching the petition campaign Saturday in Caracas.

Analysts consider the option a long-shot. In addition to the challenge of gathering signatures from 15 percent of registered voters, or nearly 3 million people, the initiative is not fully supported by the 20 opposition parties that form the alliance.

More moderate opponents of Maduro favor a longer-term strategy of making inroads with traditionally pro-government enclaves among the poor so it can sweep legislative elections next year.

Support for Maduro has plunged amid a deepening economic crisis that spurred anti-government protests earlier this year.

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