Tue | Aug 22, 2017

New assembly displaces congress

Published:Wednesday | August 9, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Venezuelan singer Jesus Alberto Miranda, known as Chino, left, and Chacao Mayor Ramon Muchacho, sing the national anthem during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela's supreme court ordered the removal and arrest of Muchacho, yesterday, for not following an order to remove barricades set up in the Chacao district of eastern Caracas. (AP)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

The government-backed assembly that is recasting Venezuela's political system appears to be literally taking the place of the opposition-controlled congress.

Delegates to the constitutional assembly yesterday were filing into the stately domed chamber where congress normally meets - and did as recently as Monday.

In two previous sessions, the 545-member assembly met in an adjacent, smaller building.

The change appears to foreshadow that congress itself could be the next target of the assembly, which has been given powers over all other branches of government.

Government officials have said the assembly should strip lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution - a move intended to hold them accountable for allegedly stirring violence in four months of anti-government protests that have left more than 120 people dead and hundreds more injured or detained.

Meanwhile, the UN says Secretary General Antonio Guterres is convinced the crisis in Venezuela can't be solved "through the imposition of unilateral measures", and is again urging the Government and opposition to relaunch negotiations.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said yesterday that Guterres "is concerned that recent developments could lead to further escalation of tensions and distance the country from a path conducive to a peaceful solution to its challenges".

Dujarric said "at this critical time" the secretary general is urging negotiations "for the benefit of the Venezuelan people."

He said Guterres is also supporting international and regional efforts seeking to revive talks.