New assembly dividing Venezuela begins work

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CARACAS: A new assembly packed with allies of unpopular President Nicolas Maduro and with sweeping powers was to begin work on Saturday, deepening divisions in a crisis-wracked Venezuela. The Constituent Assembly, headed by a former foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, is tasked with rewriting the 1999 constitution into a charter Maduro has promised will end the turmoil rocking his impoverished yet oil-rich nation. On Friday, the body took over an ornate chamber under a golden dome in the Legislative Palace in Caracas—at the far end of a building shared with the opposition-run legislature, the National Assembly. Elected a week ago amid bloody protests and international objections, the Constituent Assembly has powers to override every branch of government, and can dissolve the legislature. The United States, the European Union, the Vatican and major Latin American nations including Mexico, Argentina and Chile have all condemned the new body, saying it undermines democracy and stokes tensions in Venezuela.

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AFP

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