"The election of the Constituent Assembly has durably worsened the crisis in Venezuela. It risks undermining other legitimate institutions foreseen by the Constitution such as the National Assembly. The circumstances under which the election took place raise further doubts about the ability of the Constituent Assembly to effectively represent all components of the Venezuelan population," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said.
The EU official urged Caracas to release all political prisoners, including Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez, two prominent opposition figures, who were taken from their homes by police earlier in the week.
"The European Union and its Member States therefore cannot recognise the Constituent Assembly as they have concerns over its effective representativeness and legitimacy and call on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to take urgent measures to rectify the course of events. In particular, the effective installation of the Constituent Assembly should be suspended and the attributions of all institutions foreseen by the Constitution should be explicitly recognized," Mogherini stressed.
According to the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, a total of 41.53 percent of Venezuelan voters cast their ballots during the election to the Constituent Assembly, or 8.1 million people. The figures are disputed by the opposition which posted photos of empty polling stations throughout the election day, saying that over 90 percent of the eligible voters did not attend.
Venezuela plunged into turmoil in January 2016, when a new opposition-dominated legislature was elected, and relations between Maduro and the parliament became strained. In March, the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to absorb the legislative powers of the state’s National Assembly. While the controversial decision was immediately reversed amid backlash, supporters of the opposition-controlled parliament, who strive for the dismissal of the court's justices, took to the streets in early April. The series of protests which then ensued has so far claimed the lives of over 120 people.