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Venezuelan Opposition Leader Enters Legislative Building After Standoff with Troops


Venezuela’s National Assembly President and opposition leader Juan Guaido tries to climb the fence to enter the compound of the Assembly in Caracas, after he and other opposition lawmakers were blocked by police, Jan. 5, 2020.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido entered the country's legislative building Tuesday, two days after the ruling Socialist Party installed its own parliamentary leadership, the latest development in an effort to gain control of Venezuela's last democratic institution.

Guaido and a handful of opposition lawmakers forced their way into the National Assembly after a standoff with President Nicolas Maduro's security forces initially prevented them from entering.

After the half-hour confrontation with troops, Guaido made his way toward his seat and led lawmakers in the singing of the national anthem. Shortly thereafter, the electricity went out, dimming the building and rendering microphones unusable.

Lawmakers were forced to shout as they declared Guaido the legitimate president of the legislature, prompting opposition accusations of a "parliamentary coup."

Just minutes before Guaido gained entry, a brief parliamentary session led by Luis Parra had already ended. Parra was sworn in as the head of Parliament on Sunday by Maduro's allies.

Parra claims to have captured 81 votes, an assertion refuted by the opposition, which says 100 lawmakers, a majority, voted for Guaido in a legislative session that was held later Sunday at the offices of a Venezuelan newspaper. There are 167 seats in the legislature.

Guaido, who has served as National Assembly president for the past year, has tried to oust Maduro from the presidency during that period. Serving as head of the legislature has been the foundation of Guaido's claim to be Venezuela's legitimate interim leader.