Venezuela : Search on for rebels

New Venezuela assembly begins

El Pais reports some men attacked the Fuerte Paramacay military base in the northern city of Valencia and were able to make off with weapons, while forces loyal to Maduro used megaphones to urge the rebels to lay down arms.

In 2014, the military issued an arrest warrant for Caguaripano and 30 other soldiers after he had called for a rebellion, saying the "armed forces can not be and are not indifferent" to what he called a "Castro-Communist system", a year after Maduro had taken over the presidency from Hugo Chavez.

The new body, elected last Sunday in a vote decried internationally as a power grab, was installed Friday, with its leaders vowing to back Maduro's calls to move against political opponents.

Ortega has charged that the real reason for her firing was that she was pursuing cases against members of President Nicolas Maduro's ruling PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) for illicit links to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Maduro said 20 men entered the base and managed to reach the weapons depot undetected, but then an alarm sounded alerting troops to the incursion.

One, of course, denied by the Maduro administration who said that most of the men in the videos were civilians, led by a deserter. "This is a civic and military action to re-establish constitutional order", he says.

"This is not a coup d'etat", he said.

Allies of President Maduro had said in the days before that Ms Ortega would not be in her post much longer.

The new assembly has power to rewrite the constitution, re-jig state institutions and could allow the president to rule by decree in the oil-rich but economically-ailing country.

"Today we had to defeat terrorism with bullets", Maduro said.

Around 120 people have reportedly been killed in protests fuelled by anger at the socialist government over food shortages, soaring inflation and high crime.

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Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said some of those arrested in the "military uprising" confessed to being civilians paid to participate.

The court's order was seen as anti-democratic and although it was quickly annulled, near-daily demonstrations snowballed into a general protest calling for a new presidential election. But the president is believed to still have the military's support.

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country، and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators.

As the opposition did not field any candidates, the constituent assembly is dominated by government loyalists who showed their allegiance by waving pictures of former President Hugo Chávez at their inauguration.

The opposition, which controls the legislature, has been sidelined.

As with the latest uprising, most manifestations of dissent among troops have been small and isolated thus far.

"It's still very hard to know to what extent there are significant divisions within the military", Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue said recently.

Her successor has promised to crack down on the demonstrations, but Ms Ortega has rejected her removal as illegal, saying she still considers herself the country's top prosecutor.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's global broadcaster, noted that critics at home and overseas have condemned the so-called constituent assembly that formed on August 4 and is meant to replace the popularly elected National Assembly, which opposes Maduro's increasingly authoritarian rule.

She has also denounced the constituent assembly as unconstitutional and publicly contradicted versions given by government officials about how protester Juan Pablo Pernalete was killed.

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