Venezuela's Guaido readies for congress showdown after Socialist takeover
Venezuela's legislative chief Juan Guaido on Tuesday planned to return to congress after a confused melee on Sunday allowed the ruling Socialist Party to install new parliamentary leadership, setting up a likely showdown with government security forces. Allies of President Nicolas Maduro swore in Luis Parra as parliament chief on Sunday, seizing the one major state institution that lay outside of Maduro's control.
Parra, who was elected to congress in 2015, had been expelled from the First Justice opposition party in late 2019 due to corruption allegations, which he has denied. Dozens of countries, including the United States, denounced Parra's appointment as illegitimate and said they continue to recognize Guaido as the parliament's head and as Venezuela's rightful president.
On Sunday, soldiers with riot shields blocked Guaido from entering parliament for what was expected to be his re-election. After Parra's swearing-in, Guaido held a separate session elsewhere in which 100 lawmakers backed his bid. The legislature has 167 seats. Guaido has vowed to preside over Tuesday's legislative session despite what he called Parra's "parliamentary coup."
Parra has rejected that description and wrote on Twitter, "We came to save parliament from destruction." Guaido was elected head of the congress in January 2019 and invoked Venezuela's constitution to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as a usurper who had secured re-election in a 2018 vote widely considered fraudulent.
So far Maduro has fended off Guaido's challenge, retaining control of the armed forces and tightening the noose around opposition lawmakers. More than 30 of Guaido's congressional allies are in hiding, in prison, or in exile. Parra's new policy agenda focuses on reducing conflict with the government. Maduro was quick to celebrate his swearing-in, highlighting a "rebellion" among opposition lawmakers.
Parra said on Monday that his priority was naming a new electoral council to preside over free and fair elections. Tuesday's session, he said, would debate proposals to tackle widespread shortages of gasoline, the freedom of political prisoners, and increases to workers' salaries. The session will begin at 10 a.m. local time (1400 GMT).
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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