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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 07:17 GMT
Two killed in Venezuela clashes
Protesters walk towards National Guard line
National Guard troops blocked the demonstrators' route
Two people have been killed and more than 20 injured during clashes in Venezuela between National Guard troops and opponents of President Hugo Chavez.

The soldiers fired tear gas at a group of demonstrators who hoped to stage a protest close to the G15 summit of developing nations in Caracas.

The summit has been overshadowed by Venezuela's domestic politics.

Opponents of President Chavez hope to remove him from office by holding a referendum on his rule.

Opposition leaders called the demonstration to protest against further delays in the verification of signatures for a referendum on whether his term in office should be cut short.

Vote decision

Reports say about 30,000 demonstrators were making their way towards the venue of the G15 summit in central Caracas when National Guard troops blocked their route.

In the clashes that followed, the troops used tear gas to break up the rally, while the demonstrators threw stones.

Crowds protest against President Hugo Chavez
Feelings are running high over Chavez's future
Both supporters and opponents of President Chavez are awaiting word from the National Electoral Council on whether a referendum will be held on the president's term.

Should a referendum be held and President Chavez loses, the constitution stipulates a replacement be chosen by a general election within 30 days.

Should he win or no referendum be held, then he will serve be able to serve out his term until 2006.

Despite the violence outside, the two-day summit bringing together leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean has begun.

Among those attending are President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.




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