Battle lines drawn as Venezuela political crisis grows
The opposition laid claim to a big majority in the National Assembly state legislature which could empower it to force out Nicolas Maduro.
Caracas: Venezuela's political crisis has deepened as the government sued to stop the center-right opposition using its new legislative powers to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
The opposition laid claim to a big majority in the National Assembly state legislature which could empower it to force out Maduro. He rejected the assembly as illegal and formed a new hardline leftist cabinet to fight it.
Venezuela's defense minister and armed forces chief, General Vladimir Padrino, weighed into the stand-off yesterday, saying the military were unwavering in their backing for Maduro.
"The president is the highest authority of the state and we reiterate our absolute loyalty and unconditional support for him," said Padrino.
Analysts have warned of the risk of unrest in the streets in the South American oil-producing country stricken by recession, shortages and rampant crime.
The new speaker of the congress, Henry Ramos Allup, said on Twitter that two premises of his Democratic Action party were attacked with explosive devices yesterday, but no one was hurt and no damage reported. He said police were investigating.
Political uncertainty reigned as Maduro's side applied to the Supreme Court to declare null any legislation passed by the opposition-controlled congress.
Maduro supporters claim the opposition's two-thirds majority in the assembly is not legitimate since it swore in three lawmakers whom the court had ordered to be suspended pending allegations of electoral fraud.
"The decisions made in that circus they have set up should be ignored," said pro-government deputy Pedro Carreno at the court yesterday, where he presented the suit. "This is an illegal parliament and therefore its decisions are illegal and null."
He accused the opposition of planning a "coup d'etat" and being in contempt of court. Ramos Allup rejected the charge. "The ones who are in contempt are the ones who have disregarded the public will after the elections," he said.