CARACAS, Venezuela — Caracas residents blocked streets with broken concrete and twisted metal and flaming piles of trash Tuesday to protest the socialist president’s bid to rewrite the constitution amid a deepening political crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro signed a decree Monday to begin the process of rewriting the country’s charter. Opposition leaders called the planned constitutional assembly a ploy to put off regional elections scheduled for this year and a presidential election that was to be held in 2018.

Polling suggests the socialists would lose both those elections badly at a time of widespread anger over triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and other goods.

Speaking hours after yet another big anti-government march ended in rock throwing and tear gas, Maduro said a new constitution was needed to restore peace.

“This will be a citizens’ assembly made up of workers,” the president said Monday. “The day has come brothers. Don’t fail me now.”

“I am no Mussolini,” he added.