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Venezuela’s Maduro names new VP in cabinet reshuffle

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) arrives for a meeting with ministers next to his wife Cilia Flores (L) and Venezuela's new Vice-President Tarek El Aissami, at the 4F military fort in Caracas, Venezuela, January 4, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has tabbed a Hugo Chavez-era minister as the new vice-president in a cabinet reshuffle that also includes two new ministers.

Maduro named Tarek El Aissami, an influential state governor, as vice-president during a televised cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

"I have appointed Tarek El Aissami executive vice-president of the republic so that he can take up the role from 2017 to 2018 with his youth, experience, commitment and courage," said Maduro.

Aissami currently serves as the governor of the restive northern state of Aragua and functioned as Chavez’s interior and justice ministers.

Maduro also named Ramon Lobo as the head of the finance ministry and economy vice president, and Nelson Martinez as oil minister. 

Venezuela’s main opposition MUD coalition has been demanding that a recall referendum against President Maduro or that the date of the presidential election due for December 2018 be brought forward.

Under constitutional rules, the opposition must secure a recall referendum before January 10 if it wants to remove Maduro. Otherwise, the president or his allies will maintain power until 2019.

The crash of oil prices in 2014 triggered an economic crisis in Venezuela, leading to severe shortages of basic supplies and soaring inflation. While the center-right opposition holds Maduro’s administration responsible for the country’s the economic woes, the Venezuelan leader has blamed everything on a US-sponsored conspiracy.

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