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Saturday 30th
posted by James Tweedie in World

SIXTY nations defended Venezuela’s right to peace and sovereignty before the United Nations human rights commission on Thursday.

The country’s permanent UN representative in Geneva, Jorge Valero, said African, Asian, European and American nations had signed a solidarity declaration.

The developing countries, including China, Russia and India, endorsed President Nicolas Maduro’s call for peace talks with the violent right-wing opposition and the newly elected constituent assembly.

That followed the refusal on Wednesday of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition to attend recently restarted talks in the Dominican Republic.

Mr Valero said the signatories had affirmed all nations’ right to organise elections, including the July 30 vote for the constituent assembly.

The United States slapped sanctions on Venezuela for going ahead with the election and the EU is set to follow suit.

Mr Valero said the nations recognised the constituent assembly “promotes inclusive dialogue and mutual political recognition and seeks national unity.

Four months of Mud-incited violence aimed at toppling the government left 124 people dead but rapidly petered out after the July 30 election.

Meanwhile, in Caracas, women’s groups petitioned the constituent assembly on a raft of measures on Thursday.

They included decriminalising abortion, expanding sexual education programmes and free birth control provision through the public health system.

Abortion remains illegal in Venezuela, though women are not penalised when their life or health is endangered.

Health Ministry fi gures showed 756 women died from complications of pregnancy or birth in 2016, up from 456 the previous year.

Feminist Spider group campaigner Daniela Inojosa told RT Spanish television that the terms of reproductive rights laid out in section 76 of 1999 constitution — the late president Hugo Chavez’s first project — were “very weak.”

It guarantees the right “to decide how many children to have, but the same article protects maternity from conception,” she said.

Ms Inojosa said feminists were urging the assembly to “remove this term” from the next constitution, calling it an obstacle to decriminalising abortion.