Aug. 4 (UPI) — Venezuela on Friday swore in 545 delegates to its new constituent assembly, a body of lawmakers that has the power to rewrite the Constitution and effectively replaces the country’s parliament.
The legislative body was elected in a referendum Sunday that is under investigation for fraud. Opponents of President Nicholas Maduro say it gives him sweeping new powers inching him closer to dictator status.
Maduro said the constituent assembly will bring peace to the country, which has faced months of violent protests. Demonstrators took the streets again Monday as the new body was sworn in.
Police in the capital of Caracas used tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to reach the parliament building. Multiple people were injured.
Among the members of the new constituent assembly are Maduro’s wife and son, and an ally of his, Delcy Rodriguez, was elected president of the body.
The new assembly has the power to override or dissolve the previously elected parliament, the National Assembly, which is led by a coalition of opposition parties.
The United States has sanctioned Maduro over the weekend election, calling the president a “dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people.