New Venezuela assembly fires prosecutor

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Venezuela's newly elected National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a legislative body created to rewrite the nation's constitution, will meet for the first time on Friday, President Nicolas Maduro announced.

Maduro's former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez, who now heads the Constituent Assembly, had vowed to go after those seen to be behind months of anti-government protests.

Some shouted, "He's returned!" as a jab at the opposition, which had ordered images of Chavez removed from an adjacent building when it won control of congress in 2015.

She said prosecutors had lodged court cases seeking to have the Constituent Assembly annulled, though few in Venezuela believed that would happen - and the new assembly could also fire her as one of its first actions.

From here we say: "savage and barbarian empire do not mess with Venezuela, which will never surrender", she claimed. "The violent fascists, those who wage economic war on the people, those who wage psychological war, justice is coming for you".

More than 120 people have died in four months of opposition protests.

Mercosur suspended Venezuela late previous year over what member nations said was its failure to comply with commitments on democracy and human rights.The Brazilian foreign ministry said in a statement that the foreign ministers of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay will meet Saturday.

Venezuela's contested new assembly fired the country's dissident attorney general, Luisa Ortega, on Saturday and ordered her to go on trial in a move sure to further inflame worldwide criticism of the leftist government.

But another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, remained in the Ramo Verde prison southwest of the capital.

More than 40 nations, including the Vatican, the United States and the European Union, denounced the Constituent elections. It could re-write the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow socialist President Nicolas Maduro to rule by decree.

The assembly will have sweeping powers and the opposition fears it will be used to strengthen Maduro's power and further crack down on dissent. The Holy Father, directly and via the Secretariat of State, is closely following the situation and its humanitarian, social, political, economic, and also spiritual implications, and assures his constant prayer for the country and all Venezuelans, while inviting faithful all over the world to pray intensely for this goal.

Rodriguez, a former foreign minister, solidified the Venezuelan Democrats' concerns about the legislative body turning into Maduro's latest political weapon.

Earlier Friday, Maduro's government released one of two opposition leaders hauled to jail in pre-dawn raids Tuesday.

The Trump administration previously placed personal sanctions on Maduro in response to Sunday's election, including travel restrictions and the freezing of assets, while senior officials are also considering additional sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry, which represents 95 percent of the country's total exports.

At least 40 global leaders had called on Maduro not to launch the new assembly, saying they would not recognize it.

Among complaints against Maduro is his refusal to allow global aid to enter the country, which is in a deep recession and is suffering food and medicine shortages. Their supporters call them political prisoners.