Vatican calls on Maduro to scrap plans to alter Constitution

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone

We do not know where he is or where they are taking him.

"I feel deeply the wounds of each one of you", Maduro said addressing a small group of injured national guardsmen with burns, on crutches and wearing neck braces.

The U.S. State Department - referring to reports that the election turnout count had been tampered with - said Thursday that the assembly was illegitimate, reiterating a call by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for Maduro to leave office or face unspecified actions to "return the government processes back to the constitution". But Maduro's opponents have shown signs of division about how to move forward and have coming under increasing fire from some anti-government Venezuelans.

On Friday, assembly leader Delcy Rodriguez, a former Venezuelan foreign minister, warned that "justice will come" to some members of the opposition.

And Maduro said ominously on Friday that "if we had an attorney general here that acted. all these violent protesters would already be in jail".

The 545-member constituent assembly is made up entirely of pro-government loyalists after the opposition boycotted the vote as unconstitutional.

Mr Trump's top national security adviser said he does not see a military intervention in Venezuela as likely, even as he urged nations to help "rescue" the country from "authoritarian dictatorship".

The installation of the assembly will likely intensify the political crisis in Venezuela fueled by four months of protests that have left at least 120 dead, according to authorities.

The powerful 554-seat body is capable of dissolving the opposition-led legislature and rewriting the constitution.

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But another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, remained in the infamous Ramo Verde prison southwest of the capital.

The legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly has been thrown into question by claims of fraud, most notably by a British-based firm, Smartmartic, which was involved in supplying the technology for the July 30 vote.

McMaster cites the historical resentment in Latin America over the long history of USA military interventions in the region. He adds "the United States calls all who cherish freedom to condemn the Maduro regime for its abuse of power and its abuse of its own people".

"It's important for us to place responsibility for this catastrophe on Maduro's shoulders".

Also on Saturday, South American trade bloc Mercosur indefinitely suspended Venezuela, adding to global pressure on Maduro to dismantle the newly created assembly and restore democracy.

Mercosur has no provision for expulsion - it had suspended Venezuela temporarily in December for not complying with the bloc's regulations, and toughened its stance following the weekend's controversial election. Abroad, Russia - which has loaned billions of dollars to Venezuela - is his main ally against a tide of 40 countries that have criticized the new assembly as a blow to democracy.

Also, an increasing number of foreign governments have refused to recognise the Assembly and many within Venezuela fear it will create a one-party state. "Essentially what Mercosur is saying is: Without democracy, no, you can not be a part of Mercosur".

Governments from Spain to Canada to Argentina have spoken out against the assembly.

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