Top Venezuela court blocks bid to cut President Maduro's term

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image captionVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is approaching the halfway point in his term, leaving him vulnerable to a recall referendum.

Venezuela's supreme court has rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to cut President Nicolas Maduro's term from six to four years.

The court ruled that the amendment could not be applied retroactively to Mr Maduro's current term.

The amendment was proposed by the opposition, which won control of the legislature last year.

The opposition has tried various means to oust Mr Maduro, including constitutional reform and a referendum.

In its judgment, the supreme court ruled that the proposed amendment was constitutional, but could not be applied retroactively.

Members of the opposition have expressed frustration at what they say are stalling tactics from the government.

Mr Maduro, 53, replaced Hugo Chavez in 2013 but his popularity has since fallen as the country battles recession.

According to Venezuelan law, leaders can be recalled halfway through their term by a popular referendum. Mr Maduro's six-year term reaches its midpoint on Tuesday.

If Mr Maduro loses a referendum this year it will trigger a new presidential election but if he stands down in the final two years of his term the current vice president, Aristobulo Isturiz, is entitled to take over.

"The recall referendum has to be this year. If it's not this year, there's no point," said opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

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