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Venezuela President Maduro to reshuffle cabinet

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is expected to make economic announcements and reshuffle his cabinet Wednesday after declaring that the country faces a new political reality now that the opposition has taken control of congress for the first time in more than a decade.

Maduro said Tuesday night that he would make cabinet appointments to help protect the revolution in a new political era.

The socialist president asked his top ministers to resign after the party suffered crushing losses in Dec 6 legislative elections.

Venezuela's opposition took control of the National Assembly on Tuesday and top leaders have promised to remove Maduro from office within six months.

Maduro has juggled his cabinet several times since taking office in 2013, as the economy has deteriorated.

Venezuela is now grappling with triple-digit inflation and the world's worst recession, in addition to chronic shortages that compel people to spend their days waiting in food lines.

All eyes will be on the military's future participation in the cabinet amid speculation that the armed forces, where lower-ranked officers are also suffering through the economic crisis, may try to soften its strident support for the government and curry favor with the strengthening opposition.

Officers have taken a more active role in civil institutions during the socialist revolution initiated by late President Hugo Chavez. Current and retired military officers control about a third of the country's top ministries.

Shortly after the Dec 6 elections, Maduro ordered all members of the armed forces back to the barracks in what was widely seen as an assertion of control over the military.