Vatican City, Aug 4 (IANS) The Vatican on Friday expressed its concern on behalf of Pope Francis over the crisis in Venezuela and called on President Nicolas Maduro to scrap a government-backed parallel assembly that was created to alter the Constitution.
In a statement, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said that rather than favouring peace and reconciliation, the establishment of the National Constituent Assembly aggravated the crisis in Venezuela, Efe news reported.
The statement called on all political actors in Venezuela, particularly the government, to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected. It added that the Pope was following the situation closely.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held an election on Sunday to appoint members of the newly-created National Constituent Assembly, which was denounced by his critics as unconstitutional.
It was also widely dismissed as illegitimate by the international community, who saw it as a way for Maduro to bypass the legitimate Parliament — the National Assembly — which is currently controlled by the right-wing opposition.
The country has been gripped by political violence for months as security forces loyal to the government face off with opposition in massive street protests that have claimed the lives of dozens.
Maduro has denounced the protests as an attempted coup d’état but his actions have fuelled concerns in the opposition, who fear the President is trying to gain an authoritarian grip on the nation.