Venezuela opposition asks neighbours to mediate crisis

Legislative body controlled by opponents of President Maduro calls on Organization of American States to end standoff.

Venezuela''s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with governors and ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas
Maduro lost control of the National Assembly after elections in December [Reuters]

Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature has said it will ask for foreign intervention to resolve a standoff with President Nicolas Maduro and the country’s judiciary.

The oil-rich South American country has been rocked by political deadlock and rising tensions since the opposition won control of the National Assembly in December.

On Thursday, the National Assembly said it would ask the Organization of American States (OAS) to mediate and bring an end to the crisis, accusing the judiciary of blocking attempts to pass new legislature.


It invoked article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which provides for the OAS to take measures aimed at restoring democracy in the event of an “unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime” in any member state.

Maduro has a troubled relationship with OAS, accusing it of being  a tool of “American imperialism”.

Rising tensions

Opposition to the Maduro’s Bolivarian government has grown as Venezuela’s economy flounders under the weight of low oil prices and poor economic management.

A coalition of groups known as the Democratic Roundtable (MUD) has taken aim at Maduro since gaining a large majority in the December election.

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Since then, however, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stymied the opposition, which hopes to force Maduro out before the end of his term in 2019 but has been divided over the best strategy to achieve this.

The court first reduced MUD’s powerful two-thirds majority, ruling that three of its members of parliament could not take their seats because of a pending case over alleged electoral fraud.

On Tuesday, the court stripped the legislature’s power to remove justices from the bench, voiding MUD’s bid to review the recent appointment of 34 Supreme Court judges, passed by the previous legislature in an 11th-hour session on the eve of the opposition takeover.

On Wednesday, youths protesting against the court ruling clashed with police in the western city of San Cristobal.

Students threw petrol bombs and stones at police, authorities said, with at least two protesters injured in the clashes, according to an AFP news agency reporter.

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Source: News Agencies