Opponents Trying To Block Maduro’s New Government

By Updated at 2017-08-04 16:34:32 +0000


Venezuela is headed for more conflict as President Nicolas Maduro prepares to inaugurate a powerful new "Constituent Assembly" on Friday. Massive protests are planned by Venezuelans who protested against President Maduro on Monday after the controversial vote, and and state prosecutors seek to block him in court.

Maduro faces accusations of violating democracy with the election last weekend of the assembly in a vote boycotted by the opposition and allegedly marred by fraud.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega's office said on Twitter that state prosecutors had filed a case to block Friday's inauguration, "based on suspected crimes committed" during the election.

Ortega, one of Maduro's most vocal critics, has ordered an investigation into "scandalous" electoral fraud, after a British-based technology firm contracted for the vote, Smartmatic, said Maduro had exaggerated the turnout.

Since all candidates for the assembly were Maduro allies, turnout was the key gauge of public support.
The 545-member assembly -- whose members include Maduro's wife and son -- will have sweeping powers to dissolve the opposition-majority congress, pass laws and write a new constitution.

It was initially due to start work Thursday against a backdrop of opposition protests, but Maduro rescheduled the inauguration to Friday, vowing the assembly would open "in peace and calm." His opponents responded by pushing back their protest, calling on Venezuelans to "defend the constitution."

For the past four months Venezuela has been in the grip of violent protests that have left more than 125 people dead as opposition demonstrators battle security forces and armed motorcycle gangs of Maduro supporters.
On Thursday, two people on motorbikes threw Molotov cocktails at the Spanish embassy in Caracas, causing no casualties. Prosecutors did not link the attack to the political tensions, though Madrid is a fierce critic of Maduro's moves in recent days.

Maduro insists the new assembly is the solution to a drawn-out economic and political crisis gripping Venezuela, whose 18-year-old, oil-fueled socialist economic model has been driven to the brink of collapse by a plunge in global crude prices.

The United States imposed direct sanctions on Maduro, calling him a "dictator," while the European Union joined the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina in saying it would not recognize the new assembly.
Maduro has denied the accusation of an inflated turnout figure, dismissing it as a "reaction by the international enemy."