Venezuelan president urges court to review ruling on congress powers

Almagros move on Friday comes a day after the Venezuelan National Assembly accused leftist President Nicolas Maduro of having staged a coup.

Maduro faced the strongest criticism ever from within his own camp Friday as his attorney general condemned recent court rulings that strengthened the socialist president's grip on the levers of power.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami read a six-point communique that included the request for the court to re-examine its finding.

"As long as the disrespect and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persists, this Constitutional Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the body it has in place to ensure the rule of law", said the ruling.

"I'm ready with whoever is willing", he said.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has pledged to keep paying bondholders, bashing default talk as a Wall Street plot to sabotage his Socialist administration.

"PDVSA is counting on help from Russian Federation for the bond payments", a Venezuelan government source said on Friday, asking to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to media.

Venezuela's opposition called for rolling street rallies over the weekend in protest against the supreme court's decision to strip parliament of its power.

He was flanked by senior officials on a specially-convened state security committee which ordered the top court to reconsider its rulings.

The point in the communique that calls for a court review of its decision also stresses that the move was made with the intention "to maintain institutional stability and the balance of powers".

President Maduro has become increasingly unpopular, and the opposition has called for his removal from office and fresh elections.

Instead Borges called for the worldwide community to continue putting diplomatic pressure on Venezuela's government and he urged citizens to protest Saturday.

"It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order", the 59-year-old said in a speech on state television on Friday.

"April is starting on a good step", Mr Maduro said jubilantly, surrounded by a dozen officials after the emergency meeting.

"You have a new opportunity to show the country and global community if you are with the dictatorship or want your children and grandchildren to grow and live in a country where there's democracy and liberty", said David Smolansky, a Caracas area mayor. Several protesters were arrested and some journalists had their cameras seized.

Colombia, Chile and Peru withdrew their ambassadors over the ruling.

On Saturday, the National Assembly planned an open-air meeting in Caracas, while South America's UNASUR bloc was to meet in Argentina with most of its members unhappy at Venezuela.

The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) condemns the fraud charges as a trumped-up bid to curb its power after it won a landslide in legislative elections in December 2015 with a promise to oust Maduro. "A revision of a decision that leaves everything like before doesn't resolve a coup". The wording about taking over Assembly functions came in a ruling allowing Maduro to create joint oil ventures without congress' approval.

  • Leroy Wright