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Venezuela’s President Chastised by His Top Prosecutor

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A protest outside the Supreme Court in Caracas on Friday. Venezuelans have been thrust into a new round of political turbulence after the court seized power from the National Assembly. Credit Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press

IQUITOS, Peru — Venezuela’s attorney general on Friday condemned the decision by the country’s Supreme Court to seize power from the National Assembly as “a rupture in the constitutional order” — a rare rebuke of President Nicolás Maduro from a top figure in his own government.

At a regularly scheduled news conference in Caracas, the attorney general, Luisa Ortega, said that the ruling, which transferred all powers of the country’s National Assembly to the court, violated the inclusive spirit of the country’s laws. “We were able to achieve a social contract,” she said. “We all participated in this Constitution.”

“It is a rupture in the constitutional order,” she said.

Although she is one of the country’s top law enforcement officials, it is unclear what ability Ms. Ortega has to stop the court’s decision, given the growing authority of the president. But her criticism of the ruling exposed a rare fissure within the leftist movement led by Mr. Maduro, which has mainly presented a united front as he has accumulated more and more power over the last year.

The court’s decision, issued late Wednesday night, has generated condemnation both within and outside of Venezuela that the country has become a dictatorship in all but name.

After more than a year of conflicts with the National Assembly, controlled by Mr. Maduro’s opponents, the court ruled that the assembly was in contempt and transferred parliamentary powers to the judges.

The court, packed with judges loyal to Mr. Maduro, is seen as a rubber stamp for the president.

On Friday, members of Mr. Maduro’s political opposition applauded Ms. Ortega’s remarks.

The opposition of the attorney general “is the opposition that causes dictatorships to crumble,” said Freddy Guevara, an opposition legislator, in a recorded message.

On Thursday, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia joined the criticism, writing on Twitter: “I raise our voice of protest, in solidarity with democracy.”

Source: NYT > World

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