The opposition in Venezuela planned a rally in honour of dead protesters in a final week-long push to force President Nicolas Maduro into aborting the vote for a Constitutional Assembly.

A supporter of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shows a document on the National Constituent Assembly during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017.
A supporter of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shows a document on the National Constituent Assembly during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017.

Venezuela's opposition plastered election centres with slogans and rallied in the honour of dead protesters on Monday in a final week-long push to force President Nicolas Maduro into aborting a controversial congress.

Maduro, 54, is pressing ahead with the vote for a Constitutional Assembly on Sunday despite the opposition and international criticism.

Critics say the assembly, whose election rules appear designed to ensure a majority for Maduro, is intended to institutionalise dictatorship in the South American OPEC nation.

But Maduro insists it is the only way to empower the people and bring peace after four months of anti-government unrest.

Knots of opposition supporters gathered at various centres where Venezuelans will vote on the assembly to leave messages, chant slogans and wave banners.

The opposition also planned nationwide rallies in the afternoon in honour of protesters slain during the crisis.

Fatalities have included opposition and government supporters, bystanders and security officials.

More than 100 people have been killed during the protests.

Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against the government in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017. (Reuters)
Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against the government in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017. (Reuters)

"Ready for any scenario"

The Democratic Unity coalition has raised the stakes by calling a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday after millions participated in a 24-hour shutdown last week.

Young members of a self-styled "Resistance" movement said the moves by the formal opposition were not tough enough, and are threatening armed action.

Over the weekend, Maduro said his government was "ready for any scenario" and blasted his foes as "terrorists" servile to Washington.

"We're not surrendering to anyone!" he said.

Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrate during a rally in favour of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017. (Reuters)
Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrate during a rally in favour of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. July 24, 2017. (Reuters)

The government has declared election centres "zones of special protection" and planned to deploy more than 230,000 soldiers to keep the peace on Sunday.

With US President Donald Trump threatening economic sanctions on Venezuela, potentially aimed at the oil sector accounting for 95 percent of its export revenues, Maduro said he could count on "great friends" like China and India if need be.

Details have been scarce on what Maduro's Constituent Assembly would actually do, but it would have the power to rewrite the national charter - written under Chavez in 1999 - and override all other institutions.

Officials have said it would immediately replace the existing National Assembly legislature where the opposition won a majority in 2015 elections.

Source: Reuters