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Venezuela president denies constitutional breach

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Venezuelan opposition deputy Rafael Guzman (C), confronts National Guard personnel during a protest in front of the National Attorney’s General office building in Caracas on March 31, 2017.<br />Venezuela’s attorney general Luisa Ortega surprisingly broke ranks with President Nicolas Maduro on Friday, condemning recent Supreme Court rulings that consolidated the socialist president’s power as a “rupture of constitutional order.” PHOTO: JUAN BARRETO / AFP

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Friday rejected accusations that moves to consolidate his power in the crisis-hit country had violated the constitution.

“In Venezuela, the constitution, civil, political and human rights and people power are in full force,” Maduro said in a speech to cheering supporters.

Maduro’s opponents and political analysts alleged a coup after the Supreme Court took over powers from the legislature and removed lawmakers’ immunity.

International powers condemned the court’s move, which gave the socialist president control over the only major state institution that still had been out of his grasp.

The move earned the government public condemnation for the first time from a senior member of Maduro’s own camp, Attorney General Luisa Ortega, who broke ranks with him on Friday.

She branded the court’s rulings a “rupture of constitutional order,” in a surprise declaration on state television which drew applause from the crowd.

Coming from a staunch supporter of Maduro’s late predecessor Hugo Chavez, it was the strongest sign of divisions in the government camp since its standoff with the center-right opposition started in January 2016.

Maduro responded to Ortega in his speech by vowing “through dialogue and the constitution, to resolve the impasse” between the attorney general and the court.

He also said he had called a meeting of security chiefs to “deliberate and draw up a resolution.


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Nicolas MaduroVenezuela

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