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GENEVA (Reuters) - The top United Nations human rights official called on Venezuela's Supreme Court on Friday to reconsider its decision to take over legislative powers and urged President Nicolas Maduro's government to uphold rights to peaceful assembly.

Opposition leaders branded Maduro a "dictator" on Thursday after the Supreme Court took over the functions of Congress and pushed a lengthy political standoff to new heights amid a severe recession, soaring inflation and acute shortages.

"The separation of powers is essential for democracy to function, and keeping democratic spaces open is essential to ensure human rights are protected," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)

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