Four Opposition Governors Swear in Before Constituent Assembly, One Boycotts

Four governors for the Democratic Action party have sworn in, but the First Justice party governor for Zulia has indicated he will not follow suit. 

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Four opposition governors for the Democratic Action party swear in before the National Constituent Assembly Monday. (ANC_VE/Twitter)
Four opposition governors for the Democratic Action party swear in before the National Constituent Assembly Monday. (ANC_VE/Twitter)
By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Bogota, October 24 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Four opposition state governors for the Democratic Action party took an oath before the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Monday - despite previous declarations from the opposition that its new governors would not swear in before the body.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition (MUD) won five state governorships in Venezuela’s regional elections on October 15, including four Democratic Acton governors in Nueva Esparta, Anzoategui, Tachira and Merida. The candidate for the rightwing First Justice party won in Zulia state. 

Following the announcement of the election results, the MUD released an official statement saying that its new governors would not take an oath before the assembly to assume their positions - in defiance of the ANC and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. AD leader Ramos Allup also publicly stated several times that the governors did not have to swear-in before the “prostitute-like” assembly. 

The ANC is the country’s most important elected body according to the Constitution and delegates were elected during a national vote on July 30. Nonetheless, the opposition has boycotted the ANC as "fraudulent".

In spite of the MUD’s official position, several of the AD governors expressed a preference for swearing-in before the ANC. In particular, the AD governor for Nueva Esparta, Alfredo Díaz, said that governors should take the oath in order to protect the opposition’s electoral wins. An emergency meeting between opposition governors was reportedly held over the weekend in an attempt to reach a consensus.

#AHORA | Gobernadores electos de Acción Democracia se juramentaron y subordinaron ante la @ANC_ve @DrodriguezVen pic.twitter.com/oXDFOQF0bE

— Constituyente (@ANC_ve) October 23, 2017

The official ANC Twitter account announced the swearing-in ceremony Monday afternoon. 

The AD governors' decision appears to have deepened existing divisions within the opposition coalition and led to the public exchange of insults amongst its leaders.

Reacting to the news in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Ramos Allup said AD's National Executive Committee considered the four governors to have "expelled themselves" from the party. 

“Democratic Action does not expel anybody. In this case article 32F exists which is called "self-exclusion", this operates automatically when a leader does not comply with party lines," he said.

The AD veteran also stated that it was "inappropriate" for the opposition to be "taking shots at each other," in reference to the comments of several opposition leaders accusing the four AD governors of "betrayal".

In a string of tweets, Popular Will coordinator Carlos Vecchio called the AD politicians “prostitute-governors” and say they had “humiliated themselves,” as well as “betrayed those who had fought and died for Venezuela”. Andres Velasquez, the opposition candidate for Bolivar, likewise said the governors’ actions warranted “national condemnation”. 

La foto de la vergüenza. Traición contra quienes luchan y han dejado su vida por libertad de Venezuela pic.twitter.com/Ve3O0LSmlD

— CARLOS VECCHIO (@carlosvecchio) October 23, 2017

1/ 3.- Gobernadores que se arrastraron ante ilegitima e inconstitucional ANC, merecen el mayor repudio nacional.

— Andres Velasquez (@AndresVelasqz) October 23, 2017

Meanwhile, Popular Will leader Freddy Guevara tweeted that: “The Unity’s position was already decided and communicated some time ago: NOT to swear-in before the ANC. The governors that took the oath distanced themselves".

Posición de la Unidad se decidió y comunicó hace tiempo: NO juramentarse ante ANC. Los Gobernadores que se juramentaron se apartaron

— Freddy Guevara (@FreddyGuevaraC) October 23, 2017

But the four AD governors hit back at the remarks during a press conference Tuesday, criticising opposition legislators in the National Assembly for refusing to let them address the public from parliament. In comments to press, AD governor for Tachira Leidy Gomez accused opposition lawmakers of hypocrisy and said it was impossible to govern "from exile in Washington".

"Is the CNE only illegitimate now that we only won five state governorships? You all stood [in elections] as well!," she said. 

Gomez confirmed she had acted against the wishes of party leader Allup, and told press that First Justice governor for Zulia Juan Guanipa had initially agreed to participate in the swearing-in ceremony but later backtracked. 

Since Monday's ceremony, Guanipa has publicly indicated that he will not take an oath before the ANC, and called demonstrations outside of the National Electoral Centre in Zulia Tuesday.

The eighteen governors elected for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela were sworn in before the ANC last week.

Meanwhile Venezuelan President also approved resources Monday for an infrastructure-improvement programme across Venezuela’s twenty-three states.

The plan is based on eight points, including the strengthening of citizen security, local transport improvements, the renovation of health centres, funds for the re-tarring of roads, support for the consolidation of the national government’s CLAP food distribution program and the stimulation of state-level agricultural production. 

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