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Venezuela erupts in fifth day of protests against president

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Venezuela erupted Monday in a fifth day of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro as the U Svoiced “grave concern” over moves to stifle one of his main opponents.

In the latest clashes in the once-booming oil exporter, riot police in Caracas fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators – whose leaders vowed not to let up the pressure on Maduro.

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“This is a battle of resistance. We will see who gets tired first: us of fighting, or them of repressing,” said the deputy speaker of the opposition-majority congress, Freddy Guevara.

The streets of Caracas and several other Venezuelan cities have seen running battles in recent days as protesters have rallied demanding elections.

 

Police fired water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, who hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails.

On Monday, several patients including a newborn baby had to be evacuated from a medical clinic in the Las Mercedes district after it was struck by tear gas canisters, a doctor there, Luis Montanes, told reporters.

One protester was killed on Thursday. Dozens of people have been wounded or arrested.

Maduro is fighting efforts to force him from power over an economic crisis marked by severe shortages and the world’s highest inflation.

Pressure rose on him last week after two Supreme Court rulings that stripped the legislature’s power. The court later reversed the rulings amid an outcry.

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But the crisis deepened on Friday when authorities banned senior opposition figure Henrique Capriles from holding public office for 15 years, blocking him from running against Maduro in next year’s election.

“We urge President Maduro to reconsider the decision to bar Capriles and ensure Venezuelans can exercise their right to elect their representatives in free and fair elections,” the US State Department said in a statement.

The European Union earlier added to the international pressure, raising alarm over the “ongoing escalation of tensions and violent confrontations.”

Speaking at a meeting with allied leftist leaders in Cuba, Maduro repeated his claim that his old foe the United States was to blame for the crisis.

“The order has been given from Washington that there must be no dialogue in Venezuela, to make our country explode and give way for a foreign intervention,” he said in a public address.

Maduro was in Havana for a meeting of foreign ministers of the leftist ALBA bloc, a Latin American group co-founded by his late mentor, Hugo Chavez.

Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and several Caribbean countries issued a statement in his support.

They condemned “aggression and manipulation” against Venezuela that they said “threaten its sovereignty, independence and stability.

The opposition is planning what Guevara called the “mother of all protest marches” on April 19 against Maduro.

Maduro’s supporters announced they too would stage a major march that day in central Caracas.

The opposition demands, among other things, that authorities set a date for gubernatorial elections that have been postponed indefinitely.

Maduro said Sunday he was “eager” for the elections to go ahead so he could “hand a defeat to those people… so that they will stop the rioting and violence.”

Guevara called the president a “liar.”

“He knows he would lose” any election, the senior opposition lawmaker said.

Demonstrator Carolina Moreno, a 39-year-old unemployed woman, said she was simply protesting for food.

She referred to the government’s subsidised food program for poor neighbourhoods.

“They give you one miserable bag of food a month,” she said.

24 Hours Across Africa

Russian: President Putin eases access to citizenship for east Ukraine residents.

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Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.

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Machester Derby – Epl’s Most important Match of the Season

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The Manchester derby today is arguably the most important match of the season as it will determine the comfort of Liverpool on the league table or the come back of Manchester City on top, while it also may determine the place of United in the European leagues next season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have won five of their last seven Premier League fixtures at Old Trafford (D1, L1), having triumphed in only one of the first 14 visits. A seventh away win for City would be a new Premier League record for overall wins at Old Trafford by a visiting club

Manchester United have Luke Shaw available after suspension but Phil Jones limped off during the defeat at Everton and is not expected to be fit.

Ander Herrera, who has been out for four weeks with a thigh injury, was not part of the squad which arrived at the team hotel on Tuesday.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will miss out after sustaining a hamstring problem last weekend.

Claudio Bravo is City’s only other injury absentee

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