UPDATE 6-Amid protests, Venezuela's Maduro seeks to defuse court row
(Adds Maduro, start of security council meeting)
By Andrew Cawthorne and Girish Gupta
CARACAS, March 31 (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro promised on Friday to resolve within hours a controversy over the judiciary's annulment of congress which has sparked opposition protests and condemnation from around the world.
The Supreme Court's ruling this week that it was assuming functions of the opposition-led National Assembly was lambasted as a "coup" by critics. They viewed it as a lurch into dictatorship by the Socialist Party that has ruled for the last 18 years.
"I think today we can find a coherent, clear and constitutional solution that clears up doubts and disarms internal and external aggressions," Maduro said at a meeting of the state security council.
Seeking to project himself as above a fray between independent powers and presaging a rumored U-turn by the Supreme Court, Maduro said he had known nothing in advance of its ruling but would address the matter quickly.
Opposition leaders scoffed at that as a hypocritical response to international outrage against his government.
In a rare show of dissent from a senior official, Venezuela's powerful attorney general Luisa Ortega, long an ally of Maduro, rebuked the court earlier on Friday.
"It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order," the 59-year-old said in a speech on state television. "It's my obligation to express my great concern to the country." Continuación...