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New Venezuelan assembly ousts Attorney General Ortega

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Venezuela’s newly installed National Constituent Assembly voted unanimously Saturday morning to remove attorney general and regime critic Luisa Ortega Diaz from office after she said she’d investigate allegations of fraud in the elections that established the body.

The assembly, which has wide-ranging powers and is expected to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution at President Nicol├ís Maduro’s behest, also has prohibited Ortega from leaving the country and has frozen her assets.

The body of more than 530 members, virtually all of whom are Maduro supporters, loudly applauded the vote, broadcast live on state-run VTV.

Earlier Saturday, government troops prevented Ortega and some of her subordinates from entering her Caracas office building.

More than three dozen troops stood outside the building, pictures released by her press office show. Images distributed by The Associated Press show a guard apparently barring Ortega and others from approaching the building.

“Employees from attorney general’s office are victims of abuse at the hand of … National Guard officers. They won’t let anyone in or out,” Ortega’s office said on Twitter.

Also Saturday, a human rights commission of the Organization of American States said it was asking the Venezuelan government to guarantee the safety of Ortega and her family, citing what it said were comments by “high-ranking officials” that indicated she may face prosecution.

Ortega had been a staunch supporter of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s leftist movement but recently became a critic of the government under Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor.

The vote to remove Ortega came a day after the assembly’s members took oaths of office. On Friday, assembly leader Delcy Rodriguez, a former Venezuelan foreign minister, warned that “justice will come” to some members of the opposition.

Now ousted from her position, Ortega has lost the immunity from prosecution that Venezuelan government officials enjoy.

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