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Venezuelan Supreme Court: National Assembly Cannot Overstep Constitution

Los Angeles, Jan 10th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) issued a statement Monday requesting that the National Assembly (AN) remain within its constitutional boundaries after the opposition majority declared that President Nicolás Maduro had “abandoned his post” earlier that day.

The move to dismiss Maduro from presidential office comes after the opposition majority recently instated Julio Borges’ as the AN president, replacing Henry Ramos Allup who failed to carry out a much-anticipated recall referendum against President Maduro last year.  

The Bolivarian Republic’s Constitution explicitly states in articles 232 and 233 that the AN does not have the power to declare “presidential abandonment,” but rather than such a status can only be conferred by the TSJ under special circumstances, including in the event of the president's death or resignation.

Nonetheless, 106 assembly members celebrated the latest unconstitutional decision, while Vice-president for the NA Freddy Guevara told press that Maduro was "officially no longer the president of Venezuela" on Tuesday.

"The National Assembly declared that he abandoned the post, and consequently, new elections should be called," Guevara told journalists. 

During Monday's parliamentary session, opposition legislator Juan Pablo Guanipa of First Justice (Primera Justicia/PJ) also attempted to redefine the legal definition of an abandonment of office as "not just about physical absence but rather, also a lack of constitutionality."

Guanipa continued, "Maduro abandoned his post by allowing the greatest inflation in the world and not allowing the recall referndum last year, which is why we should declare him absent and allow for a situation to hold general elections."

TSJ’s official communique ordered the AN “to abstain from the procedure of declaring ‘political responsibility’ against the President of the Republic and, ultimately, from issuing any type of act that is outside its constitutional attributions”. Nonetheless, opposition legislators have confirmed that they will pursue the implementation of the declaration in the coming days.

The judicial power likewise reaffirmed the prohibition of legislators "to convene and carry out acts that alter public order, instigations against authorities and Public Powers, as well as other actions outside the constitutional rights and legal order.”

During a public act in Vargas state Tuesday, President Maduro addressed the recent legislative action.

“How can there be so-called [presidential] abandonment when, we have reached turned in more than 1.3 million homes with the Great Housing Mission, every day our hospitals attend to thousands of families in the Barrio Adentro Mission, our elderly receive their pensions and almost 6 million homes are registered with the Local Provision and Production Committees (CLAPs).”

Maduro continued, “[the opposition] lies and provides comedy,” and urged all Venezuelans to focus on national production.

“I want this message to reach everyone. Concentrate on productive work, everywhere... Let no one be distracted or moved from their center.”

Venezuelan legislators with the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) also denounced the opposition supported decision.

“This is a political and legal barbarity. Not one Venezuelan, as much of an opposition supporter as they might be, can say that the president is absent from his work. If you like him or not, we will evaluate this during the 2018 presidential elections,” said Héctor Rodríguez during a press conference outside AN headquarters.  

Venezuela’s presidential elections in 2018 will decide the head of state for the 2019-2025 term period.

This decision comes during the first AN session presided over by Borges who was sworn into his role as head of the legislative body on January 5th. Borges stated his commitment to work toward impeaching President Maduro following the opposition's unsuccessful attempts at a recall referendum in 2016.

Published on Jan 10th 2017 at 2.51pm