Venezuelan assembly orders elections by April 30

Venezuela's constitutional assembly has ordered presidential elections by April 30 as the ruling socialist party seeks to consolidate its grip on power amid a worsening economic crisis.

The proposal was approved unanimously by delegates during a session Tuesday by the pro-government assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro is widely expected to seek re-election.

According to Venezuela's constitution, a new six-year presidential term must begin in January 2019. While elections can be held any time before then, recent votes have been held toward the end of the year to avoid an extended transition period.

Speculation has grown in recent weeks that elections would be held in the first part of the year to take advantage of divisions among the opposition, which has been struggling to capitalize on growing discontent with Maduro.