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CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro's legal team lodged a formal complaint in Venezuela's Supreme Court on Friday against the National Assembly's opposition leaders for allegedly "usurping" his role in international affairs.
Maduro's legal adviser Elvis Amoroso said documents were delivered to the court accusing the assembly's heads of violating the constitution by requesting support from international bodies including the Organization of American States. The government views the 35-member OAS as a puppet of hostile U.S. policy.
"It's unacceptable that bodies like the OAS ... receive these men when they know they are usurping a constitutional provision that international relations are exclusively managed by the president," Amoroso told state TV from the court.
While the measure was an attempt to stop leaders of the congress from addressing foreign bodies such as the OAS, there are wider fears in opposition circles that the president may seek to close down the legislature altogether.
Thanks to public ire over a brutal economic crisis in the OPEC nation of 30 million, the opposition won control of the assembly in a December election and is pushing for a recall referendum this year to oust Maduro.
Maduro, 53, is already winning a power conflict with the National Assembly, whose measures have been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court, but he said recently that the legislature could soon "disappear".
Simon Calzadilla, the congress' third in command, said Friday afternoon that the Supreme Court cannot prosecute a lawmaker without the authorization of the National Assembly, according to the country's constitution.
"The only ones usurping here are the Supreme Court judges in not following the constitution," he told reporters.
OAS head Luis Almagro, a former Uruguayan foreign minister and now a bitter enemy of Maduro, sought this week to begin proceedings at the hemispheric body that could lead to Venezuela's suspension on grounds of violating democracy.
Congress head Henry Ramos, a veteran opposition leader, may address an OAS session.
Reporting by Girish Gupta and Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Girish Gupta and Daniel Kai; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and James Dalgleish