Venezuela installs new Constituent Assembly

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Caracas, Aug 5 (IANS) The first full work session for Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) will begin on Saturday a day after it held its first session at the Federal Legislative Palace here.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who was sworn in as the ANC President, promised to represent the Venezuelan people and their demands in the new legislative chamber, Xinhua news agency reports.

The legislative chamber is controversially seen as replacing the Opposition-controlled National Assembly or Congress.

Rodriguez nominated Aristobulo Isturiz, former Vice-President of Venezuela, as her first Vice-President, and Isaias Rodriguez, who served as the country’s Attorney General until 2007, as second Vice-President.

In her inauguration speech on Friday, Rodriguez focused on the legitimacy of the ANC, which has been criticized as a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro.

The President proposed the constitutional initiative in May and said it would help to resolve the political deadlock between the country’s leftist and right-wing factions.

“We have come here to remove all obstacles from our path … which have not allowed us to exercise the validity of our constitution. We will renew it,” Rodriguez said, adding “the ANC can break the darkest phase of the dictatorship”.

The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) as well as some countries and regional blocs, including the United States, Mexico, Colombia and the European Union, have refused to recognize the ANC.

Demanding fresh presidential elections, the opposition has for months led street protests against the ANC, leading to deaths of at least 120 people.

Addressing this issue, Rodriguez said if the opposition “does not follow a democratic path, justice will be imposed, the ANC is also here to see justice done”.

“The international community should not be wrong about Venezuela. The Venezuelans will resolve our problems amongst ourselves, without any foreign intervention,” she added.

Later in the day, members of the ANC swore an oath at the Mountain Barracks in Caracas.

–IANS

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