BRUSSELS – The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said on Monday the installation of a parallel government assembly in Venezuela and the recent removal of the country’s attorney general jeopardized the prospect of a return to democratic order in the South American nation.
Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last week extolled the creation of a National Constituent Assembly, a parallel, state-endorsed body which on Saturday voted to oust the country’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, a former Maduro-ally who broke ranks to become one of the government’s most outspoken critics.
In a statement issued on Monday, Mogherini’s spokesperson said the latest developments in Venezuela “have further weakened the prospects for a peaceful return to the democratic order.”
“The EU recalls that there is no alternative to the respect of legitimate institutions, to the separation of powers and the respect for citizens’ rights to freely express their political opinion,” the statement continued, urging respect for the rule of law.
In April, the Venezuelan Supreme Court was poised to strip the country’s opposition-held legislative body of its powers, but reversed the ruling amid ongoing widespread and deadly street protests from the opposition who fear a shift into authoritarianism.
“We expect the Venezuelan government to urgently liberate all political prisoners and ensure the respect of the rule of law and human rights,” the statement read.
Maduro’s actions have brought staunch criticism from many Western institutions and even sanctions from the United States.
But the Venezuelan government has denounced the opposition protests as an attempted coup d’état.
Over 100 people have died in the violence that for months has consumed the capital city, Caracas.