The newly elected Venezuelan legislative body will meet for the first time Friday morning, President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday night in a speech broadcast nationwide.
Maduro also announced he had named Jorge Arreaza, a former vice president, as foreign minister. Samuel Moncada, who was foreign minister, will become Venezuela’s representative of the Organization of American States.
The National Constituent Assembly takes the place of the opposition-led National Assembly, and critics fear it will erode democracy.
The opposition boycotted the election, calling it fraudulent, and said the National Constituent Assembly will have the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.
OAS to discuss ‘illegitimate’ election
On Wednesday night, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), called for an emergency council meeting regarding “the aggravation of the crisis in Venezuela.”
Almagro cited “illegitimate electoral acts for the installation of a Constituent Assembly, as well as electoral fraud of more than one million votes,” arguing that Venezuela is infringing on two articles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
The meeting is to take place over the weekend.
Virtually all the new body’s 545 members are supporters of the leftist leader.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council said more than 8 million people, about 41.53% of registered voters, cast ballots Sunday to pick the much larger legislative body. A company that provided the voting technology for the controversial vote has said the government’s figure is off by 1 million votes.
Maduro disputed the assertion of Antonio Mugica, chief executive of London-based Smartmatic.
“The stupid president of Smartmatic, under pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom, now says only 7.5 million people voted,” Maduro said. “I say it was more than 10 million.”
More than 350 members of the new assembly were elected in open municipal votes. The remaining members were elected by people from certain social and industry groups (like students, pensioners or workers).
The opposition had won control of the National Assembly in 2015 elections, and held 112 of the body’s 167 seats. But it was essentially void because pro-Maduro legislators stopped attending sessions.
In a nonbinding July 16 referendum organized by opposition parties, an overwhelming majority of voters came out against Maduro’s plan.
The referendum asked voters three yes-no questions. More than 98% of voters chose to reject the proposed constitutional assembly, request the military defend the existing constitution and support fresh elections before Maduro’s term ends in 2019.
About 7 million Venezuelans voted in that referendum, 37% of the country’s electorate.
Venezuelan AG: Why I became a critic
Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, gave an interview to CNN en Español Wednesday, speaking for the first time about the events that led her to become a vocal critic of the Venezuelan government after years of being a staunch Chavista.
Diaz told CNNE’s Fernando del Rincon that the political, social, and institutional crisis in the country were reason enough, but that she was also motivated by the kidnapping of her daughter and grandson, as well as continuous attacks at her workplace.
She said that, while attending a meeting of regional Attorneys General, her daughter and grandson were kidnapped, and that she experienced “permanent persecution, the siege to the … Attorney General’s Office, my house, the house of my relatives has been permanent in recent months.”
She said that she has been consistent in her political views, while others in government have changed theirs.
“My position has always been the same, for five, 10 years, two years, I continue to act in the same way. I believe that those who have to check themselves are others.”