Luisa Ortega condemns ‘siege’ of Caracas office

Security forces have surrounded the entrance to Venezuela’s chief prosecutor office, a day after the government inaugurated a new legislative body that she said was fraudulently elected.

Venezuelan security forces

Venezuelan security forces

Luisa Ortega denounced what she called a military “siege” on Twitter on Saturday, publishing photos apparently taken from security cameras showing some 30 national guardsmen in riot gear standing outside her headquarters in Caracas.

Access to the downtown block where the building is located was completely restricted.

The move comes ahead of a session of the newly installed constitutional assembly that is expected to debate removing the one time loyalist turned arch government critic.

She had asked a local court to halt the inauguration of the country’s new 545-member constituent assembly, citing allegations that the government tampered with the vote that created it.

The assembly was nonetheless installed on Friday.

The all-powerful body supersedes the opposition controlled National Assembly.

It could re-write the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow President Nicolas Maduro to rule by decree. Members had said they would fire Ortega the first chance they got.

“Don’t think we’re going to wait weeks, months or years,” former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday after she was voted unanimously by all 545 delegates to lead the assembly.

“Tomorrow we start to act. The violent fascists, those who wage economic war on the people, those who wage psychological war, justice is coming for you.”

It was seated despite strong criticism from the US, other countries and the Venezuelan opposition, which fear the assembly will be a tool for imposing dictatorship.

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But supporters say it will pacify a country rocked by violent protests.

At least 120 people have died and hundreds more have been jailed in the four-month crisis.

The opposition is struggling to regain its footing in the face of the government’s strong-arm tactics. In a sign of its apparent demoralized state, only a few hundred demonstrators showed up for a Friday protest against the assembly, one of the smallest turnouts in months.

“This is what the constitutional assembly will bring: more repression,” opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said.

Foreign ministers from several South American nations are set to gather in Brazil on Saturday for an emergency meeting to decide whether to expel Venezuela from the Mercosur trade bloc for violating its democratic norms.

Venezuela was suspended from the group in December.

SOURCE: News agencies

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