Venezuela: timeline of Maduro's rocky presidency

Caracas (AFP) –


Here is a look back at the major events in the turbulent rule of Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, who sealed a second six-year term on Sunday which will keep him in the presidency until 2025.

- Takes over from Chavez -

In March 2013 Hugo Chavez -- Venezuela's leader since 1999 and initiator of its socialist-inspired "Bolivarian Revolution" -- dies of cancer.

The next month Maduro, his vice president and appointed successor, becomes president with a narrow win of 50.62 percent of votes in a disputed election.

Venezuela's legislature, the National Assembly, grants Maduro special powers in November that allow him to govern by decree for one year in order to fight inflation and shortages of food and medicine.

- Deadly protests erupt -

A wave of anti-government protests in February 2014, amid a deepening economic crisis, erupts into clashes. Over four months demonstrations are violently repressed, leaving 43 people dead.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is arrested on charges of inciting the violence. He is later released from jail in 2017 but put under house arrest.

In March three generals are arrested, accused of plotting a coup.

- Crackdown -

In February 2015 the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, is arrested and jailed over allegations of plotting to overthrow Maduro. He later flees to Spain.

In March, Washington orders sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials involved in an opposition crackdown.

Maduro later obtains new special powers to govern by decree.

In December, the price of oil plummets to its lowest level in seven years, leading to major food and medicine shortages.

In the same month the opposition takes control of the National Assembly in a landslide victory.

In March 2016, the opposition launches a failed bid for a recall referendum aimed at removing Maduro from office before the end of his term.

In September, hundreds of thousands rally in Caracas to support the recall measure.

- New assembly created -

In March 2017 the Supreme Court, considered close to Maduro, assumes the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, drawing cries of a pro-Maduro "coup."

The decision however is reversed in April after fierce criticism and international pressure. A new wave of protests begins that lasts four months and leaves 125 dead.

In May, Maduro launches moves to create a Constituent Assembly tasked with rewriting Venezuela's constitution. The opposition charges the new body, which will supersede the National Assembly, is a ploy to cling to power and will be packed with Maduro loyalists.

Elections for the Constituent Assembly are held in July. They are boycotted by the opposition and marked by massive protests in which 10 people die.

Maduro claims victory but the results are disputed.

In August the new all-powerful assembly sacks attorney general Luisa Ortega, a strident Maduro critic.

- Isolation, default -

As Ortega's firing is announced, countries in the South American trading bloc, Mercosur, announce the indefinite suspension of Venezuela for "rupture of the democratic order."

The United Nations condemns the "excessive use of force" and Washington imposes new sanctions.

Maduro's socialists sweep regional elections in October, and then municipal elections in December.

Several credit agencies in November 2017 declare Venezuela and state-backed oil giant PDVSA in partial default. Moscow lends support.

-Re-election to 2025-

In January 2018, the Constituent Assembly says a presidential election, originally scheduled for December, must be held before April 30.

The announcement catches a divided and weakened opposition off-guard.

In February, the date for the poll is set for April 22 but it is later again delayed to May 20.

Maduro wins, hailing a "historic record" with nearly 68 percent of the vote. His challengers reject the vote as invalid and call for fresh elections.