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Former Education Minister Elias Jaua speaks in a televised interview on Sunday about the national Constituent Assembly in Venezuela.

The opposition has rejected the call to dialogue and called on supporters to continue protests against the government.

The commission in charge of setting up the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela is set to soon kick off a round of debates across the country meant to explain and Constituent Assembly procedure, the presidential commission’s head Elias Jaua announced Sunday.

The Constituent Assembly, invoked by President Nicolas Maduro two weeks ago, will be aimed at “building the grounds for a mutual cohabitation between two political models,” among other objectives, said the state official in an interview with Televen, after weeks of high-running political tensions that have deeply divided the country in recent weeks.

After the main opposition bloc, the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable, known by its Spanish initials MUD, refused the dialogue offered by the government, Jaua, former minister of education, called on the Venezuelan people as a whole to participate in the process.

The commission plans to meet with the business sector, labor unions, religious groups, as well as governors and mayors in order to better explain the procedure of setting up the Constituent Assembly.

“This is an opportunity meant to maintain political stability, to solve the economic issues, to broaden and to strengthen the system of social protection, to heal the social wounds that have come up during the conflict,” insisted Jaua, condemning the decision of the MUD to reject the process.

“The situation is very worrying, the MUD leadership’s decision to reject any type of communication with the legitimate and democratic government has no justification,” Jaua continued.

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Last week, 17 Venezuelan opposition parties agreed to meet with Jaua , while the MUD coalition continued calling the whole process “a fraud” — arguing that the Constituent Assembly should be invoked via a popular referendum, not by the government.

President Maduro invoked article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national Constituent Assembly with the purpose of “transforming the state,” adding that the process would facilitate a dialogue with the opposition and broad sectors of society with the goal of easing the ongoing political tensions.

The MUD’s position against the Constituent Assembly represents a radical shift since 2013 when 55 opposition leaders signed a joint statement demanding a constituent assembly in order “to change a regime that has lost legitimacy.”

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