Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s attempt to rewrite the constitution and oust the country’s attorney general have “further weakened the prospects for a peaceful return to the democratic order,” the EU charged on Tuesday.
Maduro’s government has come under harsh international criticism since last week’s inauguration of a pro-Maduro assembly elected to rewrite the constitution through an allegedly manipulated vote.
Venezuela’s opposition-led legislature accuses Maduro of seeking to seize complete power through the constituent assembly.
The constituent assembly had dismissed the country’s independent Attorney-General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, a former Maduro supporter, who turned against the socialist government.
The EU said that the latest actions had “increased the polarisation of an already divided society,” and called for respect for the separation of powers and free speech under the existing Venezuelan constitution.
The EU called for a “negotiated solution” to the political crisis.
The statement followed a reported attack on Sunday on a coastal military base that left two people dead in Valencia, 170 kilometres west of Caracas.
The government called it a putsch attempt, which Maduro blamed on terrorists and mercenaries.
Seven participants from “ultra-right’’ groups were arrested with other suspects now fugitives, he said.
More than 120 people have died in anti-Maduro protests since April.
In spite of having the world’s largest oil reserves, the country is suffering from inflation and chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans already have fled into neighbouring Colombia and Brazil to escape deprivation and turmoil.