Loyalists of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela’s newly created super congress moved to consolidate government power Saturday, stripping the independent chief prosecutor of her job and cordoning off her headquarters in a move signaling a swiftly widening crackdown on political dissent.
The new body, elected last Sunday in a vote decried internationally as a power grab, was installed Friday, with its leaders vowing to back Maduro’s calls to move against political opponents. Those threats translated into fast action, with hundreds of troops surrounding chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz’s office at dawn. Ortega Díaz was the most prominent senior administration official in Venezuela who is a vocal critic of the Maduro government.
The move appeared to signal a dangerous new phase in Venezuela’s break with democracy, reinforcing fears about Maduro using the new National Constituent Assembly (ANC), to rubber-stamp a fresh campaign against opponents. In addition to firing Ortega Díaz, the assembly ordered her not to leave the country and replaced her with a Maduro loyalist.
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