Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature on Thursday branded the government's plan to hold elections for the assembly two years early an "attempted coup."
The vote for the National Assembly is scheduled for late 2020, but Diosdado Cabello, the powerful number two of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist party, said the legislative polls could be held on April 22, the same day as the presidential election.
For the legislature, the proposal indicates the "totalitarian intent" of Maduro's government to control "all public powers through a mega electoral simulation."
The opposition gained control of parliament in December 2015 elections, but has seen its power usurped by the Constituent Assembly, which has assumed full legislative powers in Venezuela since it was created by Maduro last year.
To date, it has rubber-stamped Maduro's decisions.
Analysts say Maduro's government wants to bring forward the legislative poll for the same reason as the presidential election, to take advantage of divisions within the opposition coalition.
© 2018 AFP