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Venezuela to widen protest 'truth commission'

Negotiations between government and opposition will determine who is to blame for 41 deaths tied to weeks of unrest.

Last updated: 17 Apr 2014 03:17
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Dozens of people have died in protests for and against the socialist government [AP]

Negotiators for the Venezuelan government and the opposition have agreed to broaden membership in a truth commission that is to investigate who is to blame for 41 deaths tied to weeks of political unrest.

Maria Angela Holguin, the Colombian foreign minister acting as an outside mediator, on Wednesday called the step a sign of "progress" in the effort to calm Venezuela's political unrest.

But opposition leaders criticised the government for not accepting a proposal for amnesty to be granted to people arrested during the protests.

Hundreds of university students staged another anti-government demonstration late in the day, marching barefoot in what they said was penance for the country's economic and crime problems.

The agreement on the truth commission was announced following hours of negotiations that took place on Tuesday night in what both sides described as a much-needed if torturous attempt at dialogue in a nation polarised by 15 years of socialist rule.

Heading into the meeting the government had insisted that any investigation of the protests be led by Congress, which it dominates.

But it partially met the opposition's demands for an independent commission by agreeing to include national figures trusted by both sides.

The talks, which began last week, are being sponsored by the Vatican as well as Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.

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