Venezuela's Maduro affirms new legislative body as all powerful

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has recognised the Socialist Party-dominated constituent assembly as the country's most powerful institution six days after it was inaugurated

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recognised the Socialist Party-dominated constituent assembly as the country's most powerful institution on Thursday in his first appearance at the highly criticised legislative body that was inaugurated six days ago.

"As head of state I subordinate myself to the powers of this constituent assembly," he said during his address.

"I come to recognise its plenipotentiary powers, sovereign, original and magnificent," he said.

Maduro convoked the constitutional assembly in what he contends is an attempt to resolve the nation’s political standoff, but opposition leaders insist it is a power grab. Since its installation Friday, the assembly has already ousted the nation’s outspoken chief prosecutor, established a “truth commission” expected to target Maduro’s foes and passed decrees pledging “support and solidarity” with the unpopular president.

The recent election of the 545-member assembly drew international condemnation for usurping the authority of Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress.

Maduro has said the assembly is the country's only chance at securing peace and prosperity after four months of unrest and anti-government protests that have left more than 120 people dead.

In an address that repeatedly brought assembly members to their feet in applause, Maduro called for a new governance framework for Venezuela, aimed at "perfecting the constitution of 1999."

But Opposition lawmakers said they were barred from entering the gold-domed legislative palace after security forces led by Delcy Rodriguez, the super-body’s leader, broke into congress late Monday.

“This government invades the spaces that it is not capable of legitimately winning,” Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker, wrote on Twitter of the assembly’s takeover of the chamber the opposition has controlled since winning 2015 elections.

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