Venezuela's opposition has denounced the state of emergency declared by President Nicolas Maduro and expressed resolve to press for the ouster of the leftist leader this year in the backdrop of serious economic crisis being faced by the country.
Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency on Friday in the wake of what he called as conspiracies from within the country and the US to undermine his position. However, he stopped short of presenting any more details or facts that may add substance to his claims.
The opposition says Maduro's move reflects panic in the face of mounting pressure for a recall referendum as Venezuelans have had enough of him.
Speaking at a protest demonstration, Democratic Unity coalition leader Jesus Torrealba said: "We're talking about a desperate president who is putting himself on the margin of legality and constitutionality."
He maintained that Maduro was losing support within his own bloc as hundreds of protest participants waved Venezuelan flags and chanted anti-Maduro slogans.
Torrelba said imposing a state of emergency without taking the National Assembly onboard is no less than a self-coup.
The opposition won control of the National Assembly following an election in December as a result of voters anger triggered by product shortages, mounting inflation and rising rate of crime. However, the legislature was repeatedly undercut by the Supreme Court.
A recent poll showed that popularity of President Nicolas Maduro is on a steady decline as 70 percent of the Venezuelans wanted his removal this year.
However, Maduro has continued to resist the oppositions demands for a recall referendum, labelling the opposition leaders as coup-mongering elitists.
He also accused the opponents of instigating violence to pave the way for a foreign invasion. Maduro on Saturday also ordered military exercises for next weekend.