Venezuela parliament convenes, defying new assembly

August 20, 2017 10:30 pm

First Vice-President of the Venezuelan Congress Freddy Guevara (L), attends a session at the National Assembly in Caracas, August 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

’s dissolved opposition-controlled parliament has convened in defiance of a move by the pro-government Constituent Assembly to take over the legislature’s powers, deepening the political standoff in the Latin American country.
The congress held a session on Saturday, just a day after the newly-established National Constituent Assembly adopted a decree that authorized the seizure of full powers from the parliament to pass legislation of vital importance to the crisis-hit nation.
“This fraudulent decision is null, the Constituent Assembly is null,” said Freddy Guevara, the first vice president of the opposition-controlled parliament, who tore up a copy of the edict while presiding over the session.
“They will have to kick us out with bullets,” he added. “But we will continue to defend this space the Venezuelan people gave us as long as we have the will and the means to do so.”

Freddy Guevara, the first vice president of the opposition-led parliament, makes declarations to the media in Caracas, August 19, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

The 545-memebr Constituent Assembly was elected last month to carry out reforms in the constitution and has been billed by President Nicolas Maduro as the only solution to bring about peace after more than four months of deadly unrest in the country.
The opposition boycotted the elections for the assembly, denouncing the late July vote as an affront to democracy and a ploy by Maduro to tighten his grip on power. Some foreign governments also criticized the move as an illegitimate power grab.
US President Donald Trump warned a week ago that he was considering various options to resolve the Venezuela crisis, “including a possible military option if necessary.”
The newly-established assembly has also formed a commission to investigate the opposition candidates running in the country’s October gubernatorial elections to make sure they are not involved in the political unrest plaguing the country.
Nearly 130 people have been killed this year in anti-government protests, which Maduro says are instigated by the US and its allies in the region to bring down his government.
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