Candidate for Assembly, Three Others Killed in Venezuela on Election Day

Anti-government demonstrators have clashed with police during months of deadly protests

President Nicolas Maduro, widely disliked for overseeing an unravelling of Venezuela's economy, has promised the assembly will bring peace after four months of opposition protests during which more than 115 people have been killed.

Venezuela's opposition has called for protests over the weekend and beyond to press Maduro to drop the election of a 545-seat citizens' "Constituent Assembly" with wide-ranging legislative powers.

The opposition has called for a boycott and mass demonstrations against the election, which it calls a bid by Maduro to install a dictatorship with the backing of the military.

Despite four months of deadly protests and the threat of USA sanctions, Venezuela on Saturday found itself 24 hours away from a consolidation of government power that appeared certain to drag the OPEC nation deeper into a crisis that has entire neighborhoods battling police and paramilitaries while the poor root for scraps in piles of trash.

Leaders with the opposition Democratic Action party on Twitter identified Campos as the group's youth secretary in Sucre, a state in northern Venezuela east of the nation's capital.

The opposition planned further protests on Sunday despite a government ban and prison sentences as high as 10 years for protesters.

The security forces have used armoured vehicles to dispel protesters in the Caracas district of El ParaĆ­so amid the sound of gunfire, AFP says, citing local reports.

Government leaders have suggested it will swiftly take measures against chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who has openly criticized the assembly vote, as well as the opposition congress.

The candidate, identified as 39-year-old Jose Felix Pineda, was to become part of the country's Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with rewriting the constitution.

"Vice President Pence once again called for the full and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Venezuela, free and fair elections, restoration of the National Assembly, and respect for human rights in Venezuela".

State television showed Maduro casting the first vote in a west Caracas polling station.

Opinion polls say more than 70 percent of the country is opposed to Sunday's vote.

The US, the European Union and Latin American powers, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, have come out against the election, saying it would destroy Venezuelan democracy.

Several foreign airlines have suspended flights to the country, and families of USA diplomats there have been ordered to leave.

Neighboring Colombia - a refuge for tens of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the chaos at home - has said it would not recognize the results of Sunday's election in Venezuela.

The US has ordered the families of its diplomats to leave after imposing sanctions on 13 current and former Venezuelan officials.

Panama has followed suit, and also backed United States sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

Some in Maduro's administration have broken ranks with him, most prominently his attorney general.

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