Venezuela pro-government legislators return to congress: Maduro

Legislators back in National Assembly after two years following pact between Maduro and opposition faction.

'Let's go to the debate,' Maduro said on Monday after a two-year absence from the National Assembly [File: Reuters]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that as part of the deal reached with a section of opposition leaders, pro-government legislators will return to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“Let’s go to the debate,” Maduro said on Monday after a two-year absence from the opposition-ruled House, while adding that the institution was still illegal.

“This is part of the agreements reached at the dialogue table … to take the … democratic debate within the Assembly. To bring the proposals … and see if there is understanding in some sectors,” he added.

Two years after the opposition won the majority in the National Assembly in 2015, the Supreme Court announced the creation of Constituent Assembly, which superseded the congress.

Last week, a minority group of legislators agreed to start negotiations with the government of Maduro while excluding other parties led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The negotiations were aimed at finding a political solution to the country’s crisis, as well as focusing on reforming the country’s electoral board and tackling the economic crisis.

Since its formation, some agreements were struck such as the incorporation of the United Socialist Party (PSUV) to the National Assembly, as well as the release of opposition leader Edgar Zambrano months after his arrest.

However, some experts believe this group does not represent the possibility of a real change.

“The links between this opposition [group] and the [government] are old; at least for a year there have been conversations parallel to the opposition of the [National Assembly],” Carlos Romero, a political analyst wrote in Venezuela’s local newspaper el Nacional.

“But this has no impact on the political sectors, much less on the popular ones that want to survive,” he added.

Venezuela plunged into a deep political crisis in January, when Guaido declared himself interim president, saying the May 2018 presidential elections were undermined by fraud and hence invalid.

Guaido has been backed by dozens of western countries and their regional allies.

Maduro accuses the opposition of stirring up violence and attempting a coup with the backing of the United States.

A distraction 

Last week, the National Assembly in a vote reaffirmed Guaido’s leadership, while he dismissed the deal agrred to by the minority parties.

“The only legitimate power recognised by the international community is the National Assembly,” Guaido said. “Everything else is artificial, created to distract public attention.”

The opposition leader also announced that the dialogue mediated by Norway reached an end, an announcement that came six weeks after Maduro’s government suspended its participation. 

“At this time, we do not see a clear strategy, neither in the toughest countries in favour of sanctions and isolation, nor in those that are [going] for a political negotiation as a means to solve the crisis,” Luis Vicente Leon, an analyst and economist with the Caracas-based Datanalisis wrote in an op-ed in Venezuela’s publication El Universal.

“We need an urgent redefinition, before the hope of change is pulverised,” he added.

Source: Al Jazeera