Venezuela’s all-powerful Constituent Assembly on Tuesday elected as its new leader Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, who is accused by the United States of involvement in the drug trade.
President Nicolas Maduro last year led the creation of the 545-member Constituent Assembly, which the opposition and a broad group of foreign governments have described as consolidating a dictatorship by giving the ruling Socialist Party unchecked power.
“In the name of the people who have hope, I swear to do everything in my power to defend the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” Cabello said following his election.
U.S. authorities in May accused Cabello and Maduro of profiting from illegal narcotics shipments, an accusation Maduro’s government described as a campaign of aggression.
Cabello replaces outgoing Constituent Assembly chief Delcy Rodriguez, who was named vice president by Maduro last week.
The Constituent Assembly’s deputies are all Socialist Party supporters because the opposition boycotted the 2017 election that created it.