Venezuela showdown looms over contested new assembly

EU refuses to recognize Venezuela assembly: Mogherini

EU refuses to recognize Venezuela assembly: Mogherini

"For those who preach violence, to the fascists, to those who wage an economic war against people. justice will come to them", Rodriguez told the new assembly inside the legislative palace in Caracas. "Tomorrow we start to act". Maduro, who has said he will use the assembly to punish his opponents, planned to attend the opening session.

In a sign of its apparent demoralized state only a few hundred demonstrators showed up for Friday's protest against the constitutional assembly, one of the smallest turnouts in months.

Leaders of the opposition urged Venezuelans to fill the streets of the capital Friday, hoping to provide a strong showing that many people object to the assembly.

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

The Vatican statement expresses "profound concern for the radicalisation and worsening of the crisis", including the increase in deaths, injuries and arrests of protesters.

Despite months of violent protests and global condemnation, Maduro insists it is the solution to a drawn-out economic and political crisis gripping Venezuela.

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"The Holy See asks all the political actors, and particularly the Government, to guarantee the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the current Constitution", the statement said, calling also for "the avoidance or suspension of ongoing initiatives such as the new constitutional assembly that, more than favoring reconciliation and peace, promote a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgage the future".

Maduro and the election council denied the accusation. In the case of Venezuela, the bishops have been openly against the assembly.

Venezuela's controversial, newly elected legislative assembly had a fiery message as the body took office Friday: Supporters of leftist President Nicolás Maduro are in control, with a vengeance. She filed the request for investigation in a lower court, after earlier filing complaints about the constitutionality of the new assembly with the nation's Supreme Court.

Smartmatic has provided the technological platform for voting and services for Venezuelan elections since 2004.

Smartmatic, the British technology firm contracted to handle the ballot, said Wednesday the figure of 8.1 million votes was inflated by at least 1 million.

Pledges by opposition lawmakers to remain in power no matter what action the constituent assembly takes have opened the possibility of two governing bodies operating side by side - neither recognizing the other.

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