Caracas (TeleSUR– An official confirmed Washington sees the constituent assembly as an attempt to keep Maduro in power, saying the U.S. could apply new sanctions.

The United States criticized Tuesday Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s call for a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution, saying it was an attempt to stay in power in the face of opposition protests calling for his ouster.

“We have deep concerns about the motivation for this constituent assembly which overrides the will of the Venezuelan people and further erodes Venezuelan democracy,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western hemisphere, in a phone call with reporters.

“What President Maduro is trying to do yet again is change the rules of the game” in an effort to remain in power, he added.

Fitzpatrick also said Maduro’s announcement on Monday night could lead to new sanctions being imposed on the South American country.

“The actions that were taken yesterday may well give us new reasons for considering additional individualized sanctions,” said the official.

Image Credit: Flickr CC – Agencia de Noticias ANDES

Such individualized sanctions would be like those the U.S. Treasury Department recently announced against Venezuela’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami for allegedly aiding drug traffickers and Middle Eastern terrorists. The vice president has consistently denied all allegations, accusing the U.S. of slander.

The proposal to call for an assembly was presented by president Maduro on May Day to ease political tensions after opposition and pro-government supporters have taken to the streets in near-daily protests for the past month.

The government has criticized the fact that the opposition has called for more protests and refuses to return to a dialogue process to end the crisis.

Although several members of the opposition leadership called for a constituent assembly four years ago as an attempt to remove the government, now they are rejecting the call and announcing more actions on the streets against the Maduro administration.

According to the constitution, the constituent assembly would be comprised of 500 members, directly elected by Venezuelans.

Maduro said that half of the assembly would be organized by social organizations instead of political parties, such as people with disabilities, students, LGBTQ community, unions, campesino organizations, as well as the private sector.

This post originally appeared on TeleSUR English.