Tension rose another notch in Venezuela Thursday, where the country’s attorney general sharply defied President Nicolas Maduro one day after a mob stormed the National Assembly and attacked opposition legislators.
The show of public dissent from a high-ranking official suggests a split in the socialist administration and eroding support for the embattled president, whose volatile oil-exporting nation has been shaken by a wave of anti-government protests.
At least 91 people have died in three months of demonstrations, prosecutors say.
Protesters blame Maduro for Venezuela’s desperate economic crisis. He blames the chaos on a US-backed conspiracy.
Riots were reported in different parts of Caracas overnight, hours after Katherine Haringhton — recently named deputy attorney general and seen as Attorney General Luisa Ortega’s replacement if the court fires her — showed up unexpectedly at the AG’s headquarters.
Ortega denied her entry.
The Supreme Court designated Haringhton to the post, a move that is “unconstitutional, illegal and illegitimate” because only the National Assembly can name people to such positions, Ortega said in a statement.
Ortega, 59, the most senior figure to defy Maduro, has accused the pro-government Supreme Court of undermining democracy through a short-lived ruling that seized power from the opposition-led legislature.
As violence swelled, Ortega accused police of killing protesters — comments that enraged Maduro, who slammed her as a traitor.
Ortega also accused Maduro of violating the constitution with his plan to hold an unelected special assembly to rewrite the document. Read more