CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro placed himself on Thursday at the disposal of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) elected almost two weeks ago, a body that he convened and which is comprised solely of government supporters tasked with restructuring the state, rewriting the constitution and exercising virtually unlimited powers.
“I come to acknowledge your sovereign ... plenipotentiary powers to govern the fate of the republic ... As chief of state, I subordinate myself to the constitutional powers of this National Constituent Assembly,” Maduro said in a special session of the ANC in the Federal Legislative Palace.
In taking this step, Maduro – before the more than 500 elected ANC members – formally acknowledged that he will be bound by the decisions of the body, the members of which were elected on July 30 but which has been rejected by the Venezuelan opposition and remains unrecognized by a large portion of the international community.
A week ago, the ANC announced that all branches of government – including the executive branch – would be subordinate to it.
The opposition has rejected the establishment of the ANC and refused to participate in the controversial election to choose its members.
The only precedent for such a situation in Venezuela occurred in 1999 when late President Hugo Chavez called the country’s first election of a body to rewrite the constitution, and once that body was established he placed his office under its jurisdiction.
One of the ANC’s first decisions was to extend its operating term to two years, despite the fact that its members were chosen to serve for just half that period.
The ANC has the authority to remove and name government officials, draft and reform laws and implement decisions without needing to go through any other branch of government, as it did in its controversial decision to fire former Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz after she engaged in a brief period of confrontation with Maduro.
ANC member Diosdado Cabello announced on Wednesday that although the ANC unanimously decided to operate for double the time period for which its members were elected, it retains the authority to extend that period for whatever term its members may feel is necessary.