Venezuela’s con­stituent assem­bly names in­terim pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

CARA­CAS/BRASILIA — Venezuela’s newly in­stalled Na­tional Con­stituent Assem­bly on Satur­day dis­missed the sit­ting pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral Luisa Ortega Diaz, and named her suc­ces­sor.

In its first or­der of busi­ness since be­ing sworn in on Fri­day, the 538-mem­ber assem­bly, the coun­try’s new leg­isla­tive body, ap­proved a pro­posal by the Supreme Court of Jus­tice to sus­pend Ortega, who had be­come an out­spo­ken critic of the rul­ing PSUV so­cial­ist party.

Venezuela’s om­buds­man Tarek Wil­liam Saab was named “pro­vi­sional pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral” by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

Ortega, who faces trial on charges of help­ing fuel op­po­si­tion vi­o­lence, has had her as­sets frozen and has been barred from leav­ing the coun­try.

Ortega was once a PSUV mil- itant, but came to in­creas­ingly crit­i­cize Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro and his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Assem­bly mem­ber Dios­dado Ca­bello, a close Maduro aide, said Ortega had not been stripped of her du­ties for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

“We have pro­posed not only that she be sus­pended (as the Supreme Court of Jus­tice rec­om­mended), but that she be re­moved as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeds,” said Ca­bello.

Dif­fer­ences be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Ortega came to a head at the start of April, af­ter the supreme court de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily take on the leg­isla­tive pow­ers of the Na­tional Assem­bly, or Congress.

In a bid to move past the po­lit­i­cal dead­lock, Maduro in May pro­posed the elec­tion of a con­stituent assem­bly to draft a new con­sti­tu­tion. The elec­tions were held on July 30.

Mean­while, South Amer­i­can trade bloc Mer­co­sur (Southern Com­mon Mar­ket) on Satur­day voted to sus­pend Venezuela in­def­i­nitely for “breach­ing demo­cratic or­der.”

For­eign af­fairs min­is­ters from Mer­co­sur’s four found­ing coun­tries — Ar­gentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — is­sued a state­ment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, an­nounc­ing their de­ci­sion to sus­pend Venezuela in Mer­co­sur. The five above-men­tioned coun­tries are the full mem­bers of Mer­co­sur with Bo­livia and Chile as as­so­ciate mem­bers.

“It is a se­ri­ous sanc­tion of a po­lit­i­cal nature,” de­signed to po­lit­i­cally iso­late the coun­try, Brazil’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Aloy­sio Nunes told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing their meeting.

The move came a day af­ter the Na­tional Con­stituent Assem­bly was in­stalled in Car- acas to take on leg­isla­tive pow­ers in Venezuela .

Mer­co­sur for­eign min­is­ters said the move was meant to send a mes­sage to Venezuela, which is in the mire of a deep po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cri­sis.

Venezuela’s right-wing op­po­si­tion boy­cotted the assem­bly elec­tion held on July 30 and ac­cused Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro of us­ing it to con­sol­i­date power.

Satur­day’s de­ci­sion marks the sec­ond time Mer­co­sur has sus­pended Venezuela for al­leged vi­o­la­tions of demo­cratic prin­ci­ples.

At the end of last year, the bloc sus­pended Venezuela on le­gal grounds, say­ing it had failed to ful­fill the agree­ments and re­quire­ments to be­come a full-fledged mem­ber.

Venezuela on Satur­day called the sus­pen­sion base­less.

XIN­HUA

Con­stituent Assem­bly mem­bers are sworn in at a cer­e­mony in Cara­cas, Venezuela.

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