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Venezuelan foreign minister resigns to seek seat in planned Constituent Assembly

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez speaks during a press conference in the framework of the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has stepped down from her post to run for a seat in the controversial new Constituent Assembly.

Rodriguez tendered her resignation on Wednesday. She had been foreign minister of Venezuela since December 2014.

President Nicolas Maduro was quick to offer words of praise for his close ally.

Rodriguez “truly deserves the recognition of the entire country because she has defended Venezuelan sovereignty, peace and independence like a tiger,” Maduro said. “Congratulations comrade! Job well done.”

The Venezuelan president, in a speech on state television, named the country’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), historian Samuel Moncada, as the new foreign minister.

The development came as Maduro strives to send more of his allies to the Constituent Assembly, whose election is set for July 30. First lady Cilia Flores has already announced her own bid to run for a seat in the assembly.

Maduro, whose government has faced massive protests in recent months, says the new assembly, a body with powers to rewrite the constitution and override other institutions, is a must to bring back peace to the country. The opposition, however, has already boycotted the vote, arguing that the voting procedures heavily favor the government and are aimed at keeping the ruling Socialist Party in power despite its current unpopularity.

Meanwhile, a meeting held by the 34-member OAS wound up empty-handed on issuing a formal condemnation of Caracas for its handling of the political and economic crisis in Venezuela. Another meeting, held two days earlier, had also failed to agree on a joint response to the situation in Venezuela, with a US-proposed draft resolution falling short of the three votes out of the required 23. The failure is speculated to be partly due to the Caribbean countries’ support for Caracas. Those countries are reportedly benefiting from discounted Venezuelan oil imports.

Opposition activists clash with riot police during a demonstration against the government of President Nicolas Maduro along a highway in Caracas, June 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuela has been the scene of nearly three months of violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces. It started when the Supreme Court stripped the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers in March.

The decision was later revoked, but protesters continued to take to the streets across the country against Maduro’s government. The clashes have already left at least 75 people dead and over 1,300 wounded.

Critics denounce Maduro as a “dictator,” demanding elections, the freedom of jailed activists, permits for the entry of foreign aid, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The left-wing government says the protests are incited by the Unites Stated and has accused the opposition of hiring armed gangs. The opposition, too, has said the government has been using armed groups to intimidate opponents.

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