Aug. 19 (UPI) – Venezuela’s recently formed Constituent Assembly granted itself the power to write and pass legislation.

The assembly announced Friday it would “assume the ability to legislate over matters directly related to guaranteeing peace, security and sovereignty,” allowing it to supersede the country’s National Assembly.

Venezuela’s National Assembly, which has been led by opponents of President Nicolas Maduro, said it would not recognize or abide by the decision. The National Assembly is currently the only part of Venezuela’s government not under Maduro control.

A controversial election this summer formed the new legislative body. The company running the polling technology has said the results were likely manipulated. The new Constituent Assembly has already forced out the country’s attorney general, Maduro critic Luisa Ortega Diaz.

“The Constituent Assembly is null, and its acts are illegal and unconstitutional. The National Assembly, the international community and the people will not abide by the annulment decision,” the National Assembly said on its official Twitter page.

Constituent Assembly member and Maduro ally Diosdado Cabello tweeted that the move did not seek to disband the National Assembly, but simply granted the Constituent Assembly congressional power.

“For those who are screaming, the Constituent Assembly has not removed the National Assembly, only assumed roles of those who have been placed on the fringes of the Constitution!” he wrote.

The U.S. Department of State condemned the move by the Constituent Assembly to assume legislative abilities as a “power grab.”

“The United States strongly condemns the assumption of legislative powers by the illegitimate Constituent Assembly,” the department said. “This power grab is designed to supplant the democratically-elected National Assembly with an authoritarian committee operating above the law. In our view, the democratically-elected National Assembly is the only legitimate legislative body … As long as the Maduro regime continues to conduct itself as an authoritarian dictatorship, we are prepared to bring the full weight of American economic and diplomatic power to bear in support of the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore their democracy.”



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