Civilians Attacked Military Base in Venezuela, Not Terrorists - Defense Minister

New Venezuela assembly begins

Delcy Rodriguez takes te oath as member of the Constituent Assembly during its installation at the National Congress in Caracas

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, installed the National Constituent Assembly elected last week in spite of criticism from the worldwide community and protests from the opposition.

One of Maduro's biggest opponents, Attorney General Luisa Ortega, announced late Wednesday she opened an investigation into "scandalous" electoral fraud, alleging the election council manipulated turnout figures on the vote Sunday.

Ortega, a longtime loyalist who broke with the socialist government in April, refused to recognize the decision and vowed to continue defending the rights of Venezuelans from Maduro's "coup" against the constitution "with my last breath".

It comes a day after the government inaugurated a new legislative body that the country's chief prosecutor said was fraudulently elected.

The assembly has also ordered her to go on trial for alleged "irregularities" while in office.

"These attacks, planned by delirious minds in Miami, only strengthen the morale of our armed forces and the Bolivarian people", said Socialist Party official Elias Jaua.

Ortega has been replaced by Ombudsman Tarek Williman Saab, who was recently sanctioned by the USA for failing to protect protesters from abuses in his role as the nation's top human rights official.

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The updated manufacturing PMI from Markit showed a modest positive surprise when released this morning, rising to 55.1 from 54.2. Perhaps more significantly, the core figure, without volatile energy and unprocessed food prices, is seen falling.

Even as the all-powerful constitutional assembly moved quickly against Ortega, there were signs it may be rethinking about extending its crackdown.

One of those - Leopoldo Lopez - was returned to house arrest on Saturday - after being detained in military prison for four days.

Global pressure against Venezuela's election has been increasing as the United States, Mexico and Colombia said they're freezing assets and imposing other restrictions on certain current and former Venezuelan government officials.

"Venezuela is a divided country, it is a polarized country, and it will require a lot of vision and a lot of global support to sit down and have a dialogue that can find a solution", said Socorro. Its leaders are under threat of arrest after organizing protests, fiercely countered by security forces, that have left 125 people dead in the past four months.

Addressing this issue, Rodriguez said if the opposition "does not follow a democratic path, justice will be imposed, the ANC is also here to see justice done".

Maduro says 20 men in all entered the Paramacay base in Valencia shortly before 4 a.m.

The assembly was nonetheless installed on Friday despite opposition protests.

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But its mission was expanded, along with the fresh funding, at the end of previous year in light of Russia's election meddling and to counter messages from governments in such nations as China, Iran and North Korea.

But Venezuelan authorities said they had suppressed a military rebellion near the central city of Valencia. "The only thing it's doing is destroying itself and committing suicide".

The new Constituent Assembly supersedes Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The measures adopted expand on previous sanctions against Venezuela, which had been temporarily suspended from the bloc in December.

These days, I wonder whether the worldwide community should follow.

"They come walking down the middle of the street barking orders, treating rulers like their maids", Maduro told Argentina's Radio Rebelde in an interview.

According to the government, more than eight million Venezuelans participated in Sunday's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) vote, or 41% of the Venezuelans able to vote. Critics say lucrative government contracts, corruption and contraband mean many military officials want Maduro to stay in power.

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It is one of more than 780 organisations of which he has been patron, president or a member. As well as raising his hat for the troops, Philip also waved to the crowd as he left.

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