Venezuela's Constituent Assembly Assumes Legislative Functions

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"We have chose to ask the CNE to send a complete list of gubernatorial candidates to the truth commission in order to determine if any of the them were involved in incidents of violence", Rodriguez told the assembly, stressing this would have a "cleansing effect" on Venezuela.

While the decree did not explicitly dissolve congress, it stripped away the already diminished powers of the body.

He said the Constituent Assembly was acting in part to be able to approve contracts and obtain worldwide financing amid the country's severe economic crisis.

"We will teach them a historic lesson", constitutional assembly President Delcy Rodriguez said as delegates broke into loud applause while voting by acclamation for the measure.

South American trade bloc Mercosur condemned the assembly for usurping congress' responsibilities, according to a statement released by Brazil's Foreign Ministry.

"The Constituent Assembly is null, and its acts are illegal and unconstitutional", the opposition tweeted, as translated by The Washington Post. "The National Assembly, the global community and the people will not abide by the annulment decision", the National Assembly said on its official Twitter page.

The former foreign minister asserted with the new constituent decree, approved today by the 545 ANC members, the National Assembly deputies are forced to coexist with the original power, respect the laws of the Republic and work in the right way.

On July 30, he asked Venezuelans to choose from a list of party stalwarts to form the Constituent Assembly, a body that would rewrite the Constitution and govern Venezuela for up to two years while doing so.

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Borges and leaders of congress were summoned to do the same Friday. The new attorney-general, Tarek William Saab, had announced on the same day that he was going to ask the constituent Assembly to initiate the process to deprive German Ferrer, former chaviste past the opposition, of his parliamentary immunity.

Ortega told the region's prosecutors that Maduro removed her in order to stop a probe linking him and his inner circle to almost $100 million in bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz holds a copy of the Venezuelan Constitution as she speaks during a conference in defense of the Constitution in Caracas, Venezuela on August 6, 2017.

Ortega said publicly that her family had been threatened, but also vowed to defend Venezuela's constitution "with my last breath".

The US has imposed sanctions on Mr Maduro, with the Trump administration calling him a "dictator".

Global reaction to Friday's move was swift.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro called the move an "illegitimate dissolution" of the elected parliament. Ortega expressed her disapproval of Maduro in April.