Venezuela's Maduro calls for constitutional changes amid unrest

Venezuelan opposition leaders on Monday decried President Nicolas Maduro'sannouncement that he is pushing for changes in the Constitution.

Maduro signed an executive order that will form a "Constituent National Assembly" -- a body that could make constitutional changes, reshape the current legislative body, and redefine the President's executive powers.

While Maduro provided few details, he said that the new body would contain some 500 constituents, of which about half would be elected via direct vote.

"We must modify this state, especially the rotten National Assembly that's currently there," Maduro said. The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition, elected in December 2015.

While announcing his plans to a crowd of government supporters, elsewhere in Caracas opposition protesters were being repressed with tear gas and water cannons by Maduro’s security forces. Opposition protesters have been out on the streets since the beginning of April, calling for elections.

The opposition has called this move by Maduro a "self-coup." Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Maduro was "killing the Venezuelan Constitution."

Julio Borges, leader of the National Assembly, echoed Capriles's statement, calling it a coup against the Constitution and democracy. "What has happened today, and I say without exaggerating or trying to be dramatic, is the greatest coup in the history of Venezuela. It's Nicolas Maduro dissolving democracy and dissolving our republic. Faced with this, the Democratic Unity Party and the members of the National Assembly call on the Venezuelan people to rebel and refuse to accept this coup."