Caracas: Venezuela`s post-election tensions erupted into a brawl between lawmakers that left at least one opposition member badly bruised and bleeding.
Pro-government legislators started throwing punches after members of the opposition coalition unfurled a banner in the National Assembly protesting a post-election ban stripping opposition lawmakers of most of their legislative powers, opposition lawmaker Ismael Garcia told The Associated Press.
Video showed groups of legislators shoving and pushing each other on the floor.
Assembly member Julio Borges appeared on an independent television station soon after yesterday night`s brawl with blood running down one side of his swollen face. The opposition said at least 17 of its allies and five pro-government deputies were injured.
Pro-government legislators appeared on state TV accusing opposition members of attacking them.
The opposition has refused to accept President Nicolas Maduro`s narrow April 14 victory, saying the government`s 1.49 per cent margin resulted from fraud like votes cast in the names of the thousands of dead people found on current voting rolls.
In retaliation, the government-dominated assembly has barred opposition lawmakers from public speaking and sitting on legislative committees. Yesterday`s fight was the second in which opposition legislators said the other side attacked them for protesting the ban.
Since the election the government has arrested dozens of protesters, mostly students. Most have been released but many say there were subjected to physical abuse and humiliation while detained.
The government has also arrested a 35-year-old American filmmaker and a retired general who became a prominent member of the opposition. Both men are charged with illegally adding demonstrations that the government says were aimed at destabilising the country.