Philadelphia, December 14, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly reopened Tuesday a highly controversial unilateral impeachment proceeding against President Nicolas Maduro.
In an unanimous vote, legislators from the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, declared the president “politically responsible for the grave rupture of the constitutional and democratic order, human rights violations, and the devastation of the social and economic foundation of the nation.”
In October, the MUD legislative majority convened an extraordinary session of parliament in which they proclaimed a “rupture” of Venezuela’s constitutional order, accusing Maduro of “abandoning the constitutional functions” of the presidency while he was absent from the country on a presidential tour.
The move was widely denounced at the time as a Brazil-style parliamentary coup attempt, particularly given that the National Assembly holds no impeachment powers under the constitution.
Last month, the right-wing congress agreed to call off the proceeding as part of a Vatican-sponsored dialogue initiative that has seen the government and the opposition reach several agreements aimed at diffusing tensions.
However, talks have collapsed in recent weeks after the MUD left the table, demanding that the government release more of its activists jailed for allegedly violent offenses.
The Maduro government for its part has slammed the opposition coalition for sabotaging the talks, pointing to its failure to formally unseat three Amazonas legislators accused of electoral fraud as outlined in the agreement.
During Tuesday’s session, the National Assembly also passed a resolution calling on the Public Prosecutor’s office to “examine the evidence presented and… request an impeachment trial against the president” from the country’s Supreme Court.
The opposition-led parliament additionally appointed a special commission to determine if Maduro had “abandoned the office of the presidency”.
The move was protested by the socialist parliamentary bloc, who walked out of the legislative session shortly after debate began.
“We are facing a coup d’état,” declared socialist lawmaker Elias Jaua outside the National Assembly
“There is not even one coma in the constitution that allows a political trial. This opposition is breaking all of the all of the rules of the constitutional democratic game and we the revolutionary people are going to impose the right to live in peace.”
The Maduro government has convened mass “anti-coup” mobilizations across the country for this coming Saturday.