Security forces have surrounded the entrance to Venezuela’s chief prosecutor office, a day after the government inaugurated a new legislative body that she said was fraudulently elected.
Luisa Ortega denounced what she called a military “siege” on Twitter on Saturday, publishing photos apparently taken from security cameras showing about 30 national guardsmen in riot gear standing outside her headquarters in Caracas.
Access to the block the capital’s business district, where the building is located, was completely restricted.
The move came in advance of a session of the newly installed Constitutional Assembly that is expected to debate removing Ortega, a one time loyalist turned vocal government critic, from her post.
— Luisa Ortega Díaz (@lortegadiaz) August 5, 2017
She had asked a local court to halt the inauguration of the 545-member body, citing allegations that the government manipulated the results of the vote that created it.
The assembly was nonetheless installed on Friday.
Ortega’s request to block the assembly was dismissed on procedural grounds.
‘Days are numbered’
Al Jazeera’s John Holman, reporting from Caracas, described Ortega as a “thorn” in President Nicolas Maduro’s side.
“Her days are numbered,” he said.
“That’s because she’s become a lone voice speaking out against the government, the Constituent Assembly and against the treatment of opposition protesters in Venezuela, some 500 of whom will be prosecuted by military tribunals instead of civilian courts.”
Members of the Constituent Assembly had said they would fire Ortega the first chance they got.
The new body supersedes Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly. It could rewrite the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow Maduro to rule by decree.
“Tomorrow we start to act,” Delcy Rodriguez, former foreign minister, said on Friday after she was voted unanimously by all 545 delegates to lead the assembly.
“The violent fascists, those who wage economic war on the people, those who wage psychological war, justice is coming for you.”
Maduro inaugurates contentious Venezuela assembly
The assembly was seated despite strong criticism from the US, other countries and the Venezuelan opposition, which fear the assembly will be a tool for imposing dictatorship.
But supporters say it will pacify a country rocked by violent protests.
At least 120 people have died and hundreds more have been jailed in the four-month crisis.
The opposition, meanwhile, is struggling to regain its footing in the face of the government’s tactics.
In a sign of its apparent demoralised state, only a few hundred demonstrators showed up for a Friday protest against the assembly, one of the smallest turnouts in months.
“This is what the Constitutional Assembly will bring: more repression,” Miguel Pizarro, opposition legislator, said.
Foreign ministers from several South American nations are set to gather in Brazil on Saturday for an emergency meeting to decide whether to expel Venezuela from the Mercosur trade bloc for violating its democratic norms.
Venezuela was suspended from the group in December.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies