Venezuela court blocks opposition's majority

2015-12-31 12:32
Venezuelan first vice president Elvis Amoroso talks to the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, during a session in Caracas. (Fernando Llano, AP)

Venezuelan first vice president Elvis Amoroso talks to the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, during a session in Caracas. (Fernando Llano, AP)

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Caracas - Venezuela's highest court has effectively blocked the two-thirds majority the opposition won in landmark legislative elections this month by suspending the inauguration of three incoming lawmakers.

The Supreme Court of Justice granted a request from embattled President Nicolas Maduro's party to stop the three incoming National Assembly members from taking office pending a legal challenge against alleged vote irregularities.

The decision leaves the opposition with a still-powerful three-fifths majority, enabling it to remove cabinet ministers from their posts, among other powers.

But it removes, at least temporarily, some of the powers Maduro's opponents would have had, including the ability to put legislation to a referendum and call an assembly to draft a new constitution.

Observers have speculated the opposition could have used those powers to seek to force Maduro from power before the end of his term in 2019.

The opposition won 112 of 167 seats in the December 6 elections, a dramatic blow to Maduro and the "revolution" launched in 1999 by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

But the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) filed court challenges contesting the election of nine lawmakers.

The court did not grant the ruling party's petitions to suspend the inauguration of the other six lawmakers. One PSUV lawmaker from Amazonas also had his inauguration suspended, as the suit challenges the vote for the entire state.

The court must now hear arguments in the case, for which there is no timetable. If it rules the elections were fraudulent, they will have to be held again in the districts involved.

Read more on:    venezuela

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