Venezuela leader urges court to review ruling on congress

02 April, 2017, 01:12 | Author: Garry Little

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro urged called on the country's Supreme Court on Saturday to review a decision stripping Congress of its legislative powers.

Maduro's opponents and political analysts alleged a coup after the Supreme Court took over powers from the legislature and removed lawmakers' immunity.

Opposition leaders were quick to condemn the announcement as a ploy that did little to alleviate the crisis. "A revision of a decision that leaves everything like before doesn't resolve a coup". Luisa Ortega said it was her "unavoidable historical duty" as the nation's top judicial authority to decry what she called a "rupture" of the constitutional order.

"We call for reflection so that the democratic path can be retaken", she said, highlighting the strongest sign of division in the government since its standoff with the center-right opposition began in January past year.

Mr Maduro convened the National Security Council seeking to calm the political uproar, although at least one key member refused to attend.

We call for the government of Venezuela to permit the democratically-elected National Assembly to perform its constitutional functions, hold elections as soon as possible, and immediately release all political prisoners.

The Supreme Court's power grab also brought condemnations and concern from the United States, Organization of American States (OAS), European Union, United Nations and major Latin American nations. Several protesters were arrested and some journalists had their cameras seized.

While the capital was generally quiet Thursday, as night fell a few people in wealthier eastern Caracas gathered on balconies and in front of homes banging pots and pans and shouting "Get out Maduro!"

"We've gone through that before and we wouldn't want to repeat that experience or see fellow countries like Venezuela go through it", Vizcarra said.

Jose Sierralta/newzulu/NewscomAfter a months-long standoff in Venezuela that included the Socialist-controlled Supreme Court overturning numerous opposition-controlled National Assembly's decisions, the court has explicitly ruled it will now act as the legislative branch, Reuters reports.

Street protests erupted for a second day Friday in Caracas. Several opposition leaders called for a new round of street demonstrations.

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Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled in January 2016 that the National Assembly was in contempt over its inauguration of three lawmakers from the state of Amazonas who had been declared illegitimate due to electoral fraud charges.

The statement, signed by Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay, calls on Venezuela to restore the balance of power.

The Mercosur regional trade bloc scheduled an emergency meeting for Saturday, April 1, to address the crisis situation in Venezuela.

Other pro-democracy activists are counting on the global community - now that it is focused anew on Venezuela - to push Maduro to restore democracy and call elections that could pave the way for a new government.

It was a shocking departure from script for Venezuelan state TV, where the programming is strictly pro-government and Maduro often delivers long speeches or shows off his salsa dancing.

Amid the turmoil, the normally ever-present Maduro was conspicuously silent until late Friday.

"I don't support either side", said Yandry Diaz, 18, who works in a shoe shop. Maduro's approval ratings have plunged, inflation is rampant and oil prices have fallen.

OAS will hold a special session Monday, Secretary General Luis Almagro said.

"I hope that the foreign ministers of the region will deliver a clear ultimatum to the Venezuelan government", said Vivanco.

Associated Press writer Jorge Rueda reported this story in Caracas and AP writer Joshua Goodman reported from Bogota, Colombia.

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