Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly to meet on Friday
Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly to meet on Friday
A voter casts a ballot during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas Venezuela
06 August, 2017, 01:28
Amid the blaring strains of socialist anthems, government forces took control of the Federal Legislative Palace on Friday, and PresidentNicolás Maduro officially launched a powerful new constitutional assembly that critics called a death blow to Venezuela's democracy.
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The body was constituted as an expression of chavismo, since the opposition did not participate in the July 30 election, which is in the midst of questions about allegations of fraud.
There are suspicions that its initial focus will be on driving out dissent after four months of protests, which left at least 120 people dead and hundreds more in jail.
The assembly has the power to rewrite the constitution.
Human rights groups and foreign governments have denounced attacks by government officials on Ortega, the nation's top law enforcement official.
Venezuela's newly-installed constitutional assembly has voted unanimously to remove chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and replaced her with a government loyalist.
Maduro, who has said he will use the Assembly to punish his opponents, planned to attend the opening session.
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They said they were acting in response to a ruling by the government-stacked Supreme Court, which had also been considering a request to sanction Ortega. Her brother, Jorge Rodiguez, a strong backer of Maduro, is the mayor of the municipality that includes the center of Caracas.
It also asked them to create the conditions "for a negotiated solution" in line with the requirements Cardinal Parolin spelled out in his December 1, 2016, letter to the Venezuelan government, asking that: provisions be made to alleviate the crisis in the supply of food and medicine; that parties agree on a timetable for elections allowing Venezuelans themselves to decide their future; that the country's National Assembly be reinstated as soon as possible and its role provided for in the Constitution; and that legal procedures accelerating the release of detainees be implemented. On Thursday Venezuela's bolivar currency tumbled 18 percent in one day against the USA dollar on the black market.
"We must continue to fight for freedom and democracy in Venezuela", she said at a news conference afterward.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the election of the assembly amid violence over the weekend "has durably worsened the crisis in Venezuela".
Several countries warned in recent days that they will not recognize the Constituent Assembly.
The Vatican issued an unheeded urgent appeal to Venezuela's leaders to suspend its new Constituent Assembly which, it says, is threatening the future of the South American nation. Members had said they would fire Ortega the first chance they got.
"If we had had a prosecutor's office that took action and acted courageously according to justice، all of these guarimberos (violent opposition demonstrators) and criminals would have been captured، punished and imprisoned and we would have had peace a long time ago،" Maduro noted.
The assembly was installed despite opposition street protests.
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