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Maduro names Constituent Assembly leader as vice president

© AFP/File | Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (L) has appointed Delcy Rodriguez (R) as his vice president

CARACAS (AFP) - 

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday appointed the head of the Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, as his vice president in a cabinet reshuffle.

She replaces Tareck El Aissami, who will become head of the newly created Ministry of Industries and National Production.

Maduro described the 49-year-old Rodriguez, one of his closest allies, as "a young woman, brave, a martyr's daughter, a revolutionary and tested in a thousand battles."

Maduro said he had been obliged to shake up his cabinet following "the epic victory of the people on May 20."

The presidential election, which handed Maduro the presidency until 2025, was boycotted by the main opposition and denounced as a sham by the United States and many of Venezuela's Latin American neighbors.

Rodriguez has headed the all-powerful, pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly since its inception in 2017. The assembly must hold a vote to replace her.

A lawyer, Rodriguez has steadily climbed the rungs of power in Maduro's government, previously filling the roles of communications minister and foreign minister.

She has also headed up Somos Venezuela, created to promote Maduro's re-election bid.

In another change, Marleny Contreras -- wife of Socialist Party deputy leader Diosdado Cabello -- was made minister for public works.

Maduro has presided over a free-falling economy since 2013, amid a collapse in the price of oil, leading to chronic food and medicine shortages.

© 2018 AFP