Venezuela’s institutions have been “taken hostage” by President Nicolas Maduro and his party, the opposition has said after the country’s chief prosecutor was fired by a new super-assembly packed with Maduro allies.
“One hand, one political party” has taken total control through “an undemocratic mechanism that is utterly dictatorial,” the leader of the opposition-controlled legislature, Julio Borges, told reporters on Saturday.
His comments come after the country’s controversial new assembly voted to remove dissident attorney general, Luisa Ortega, earlier on Saturday.
Security forces had surrounded Ortega’s office, preventing her from entering.
“Do you know what they are trying to do? Hide the evidence of corruption and human rights violations in Venezuela,” Ortega told reporters.
“I will continue to denounce and expose them.”
On Friday, the government inaugurated the new legislative body that Ortega – a one time loyalist turned vocal government critic – said was fraudulently elected.
Maduro inaugurates contentious Venezuela assembly
The assembly has also ordered her to go on trail for alleged “irregularities” while in office.
Ortega has been replaced by Ombudsman Tarek Williman Saab, who was recently sanctioned by the US for failing to protect protesters from abuses in his role as the nation’s top human rights official.
The new Constituent Assembly supersedes Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly. It can rewrite the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow Maduro to rule by decree.
It said it planned to operate as Venezuela’s supreme power for up to two years.
Maduro contends that the assembly is the solution for Venezuela’s political standoff and dire economy.
But the opposition, which boycotted last Sunday’s vote, views it as a way for Maduro to hold onto power.
‘Stop with this!’
Meanwhile on Saturday, the foreign ministers of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil urged Maduro to dismantle the Constituent Assembly and immediately start a political transition.
“We are saying: Stop with this! Enough with the deaths, enough with the repression. It is not possible to inflict such torture to the people,” Aloysio Ferreira, Brazil’s foreign minister, told the South American countries at an emergency meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
At least 120 people have died and hundreds more have been jailed in Venezuela’s four-month crisis.
The opposition is struggling to regain its footing in the face of the government’s tactics. Only a few hundred demonstrators showed up for a Friday protest against the assembly, one of the smallest turnouts in months.
Borges, on Saturday, seemed to recognise the challenges the opposition faces and warned that the government’s use of what he called scare tactics will only intensify in the coming days.
He urged Venezuelans to continue to protest peacefully and said lawmakers would do their part by continuing to convene.
“The only thing the government has left is violence and brute force,” he said. “We shouldn’t think the government is winning. The only thing it’s doing is destroying itself and committing suicide”.
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Source: News agencies