Latin America & Caribbean

Caracas metro stations closed ahead of anti-government protest

Thousands of demonstrators protesting against President Nicolas Mauro's government march in Caracas on April 8, 2017. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands took to the streets of Caracas on Saturday

More than a dozen metro stations in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, have been closed ahead of an anti-government protest.

Caracas metro said 18 stations had been closed and 20 bus routes suspended for "safety" reasons.

On Saturday, thousands demonstrated against a ban from politics imposed on opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

President Nicolas Maduro said the opposition was "trying to set the country alight".

Mr Maduro called on his supporters "to set up plans to defend the peace... because Venezuela won't be set alight by these brazen right-wing extremists".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters threw stones at police during Saturday's march

The Venezuelan prosecutor's office said that nine people had been arrested for allegedly causing damage to the Supreme Court building during protests on Saturday.

Metro Caracas said on Twitter that it decided to close the stations for the "safety of commuters, employees and facilities".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters on Saturday

Monday's planned march is the latest in a series of anti-government protests held in Venezuela since a controversial decision by the country's Supreme Court to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers.

While that decision has since been reversed, protests have continued against what the opposition describes as a "coup d'etat" against the legislature.

The announcement on Friday that Mr Capriles had been banned from public office for 15 years triggered further protests.

Timeline of recent events

29 March: Supreme Court announces it is taking over the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly

31 March: Attorney General Luisa Ortega condemns the court ruling as a "rupture of constitutional order"

1 April: Supreme Court issues new ruling which "suppresses" previous decision to take over the National Assembly's powers

7 April: Henrique Capriles banned from public office for 15 years

The latest anti-government protest march is due to start in the Chacaíto area of Caracas.

The opposition groups organising it said they would not reveal the destination of the march until everyone had gathered, to prevent the security forces from blocking their way.

Opposition groups also called on their supporters to organise protests in other Venezuelan cities under the banner "no more dictatorship".

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