Controversial Venezuelan legislature’s term could be extended

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Venezuela’s controversial Constituent Assembly could extend its term for up to four years, its government loyalist president Diosdado Cabello said on Monday.

The controversial body, dominated by allies of President Nicolas Maduro, was created a year ago to supplant the opposition-controlled National Assembly, amidst deadly civilian protests.

It is a superagency body with authority above all other government branches. Although it was expected to function for two years — ending in August 2019 — it has the authority to extend its own term indefinitely.

Maduro loyalist Cabello told a gathering in Caracas that the assembly, which was given the power to rewrite the constitution, could be given between one and four more years “to work.”

All the assembly’s members are from the ruling PSUV party and were elected a year ago in polls boycotted by the opposition that decried the “illegality” of the legislative body’s creation.

The vote was also condemned by the United States and several Latin American governments.

The opposition accused Maduro of a “coup” in creating the constituent assembly to replace the legislative body of which he had lost control.

Some 125 people died in protests in 2017 initially sparked by the arrest of several opposition leaders and then expanded after the pro-Maduro Supreme Court dissolved the opposition-led National Assembly.

Venezuela has been gripped by a political and economic crisis that has seen the country wracked by food and medicine shortages, failed public services and inflation that the International Monetary Fund has predicted will reach one million percent this year.