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Iran Press TV

Venezuela's new assembly sacks chief prosecutor amid unrest

Iran Press TV

Sat Aug 5, 2017 1:52PM

Venezuela's newly-installed constitutional assembly has sacked the country's chief prosecutor as a political crisis over President Nicolas Maduro's alleged push to dismantle democratic institutions keeps dividing the South American nation.

In its second meeting since inception, the assembly fired Luisa Ortega Diaz on Saturday and said further dismissals would be underway.

The assembly said Tarek William Saab, a staunch government supporter and a Maduro loyalist, would replace Ortega Diaz as Venezuela's attorney general. Saab currently serves as Venezuela's top ombudsman.

As members of the contested assembly unanimously voted to ax the attorney general, pro-government demonstrators chanted slogans against her.

Earlier reports on Saturday said Ortega Diaz's office had come under siege by military troops. The dissident prosecutor said on Twitter that troops had surrounded her office in downtown Caracas.

Ortega Diaz published photos apparently taken from security cameras showing dozens of guards deployed in riot gear outside the headquarters. Reports said police had also imposed a lockdown in areas surrounding the office and access was completely restricted.

A longtime loyalist of the government, the prosecutor has turned an arch critic and has repeatedly censured a recent popular vote for the setting up of an all-powerful pro-government national assembly, which has vowed to debate removing opponents, including Ortega Diaz, only in its second session on Saturday.

Venezuela's opposition, backed by governments in the region, boycotted the constitutional assembly elections on July 30, saying it was a ploy to consolidate power in the hands of Maduro. The president and followers say the move had been necessary to restore peace in Venezuela, a country rocked by months of violence which has killed over 120 people.

Ortega Diaz filed a complaint on Thursday to block the installation of the assembly. The request, which circumvents the government-backed Supreme Court, was rejected on Friday over procedural problems. She also ordered a probe into allegations of election tampering. That came after a major technology firm in Britain said there was a significant discrepancy between the official turnout figure reported by the government and results recorded by the company's systems. Venezuelan officials have rejected the claims, saying eight million people cast their votes in the elections. Opposition sources dispute the figure, saying fewer than four million people voted.

Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who has been unanimously elected to head the 545-member constitutional assembly, said on Friday that the body would be tough on opponents who helped spread unrest over the past months.

"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," Rodriguez said, adding, "Don't think we're going to wait weeks, months or years."

During its Saturday session, the assembly said it would function for two years.

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