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Venezuela High Court Drops Bid to Cement Maduro Rule

  • VOA News

Opposition members shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a protest, in Caracas, Venezuela, March 31, 2017. Venezuelans have been thrust into a new round of political turbulence after the government-stacked Supreme Court gutted Congress of its last vestiges of power.

Venezuela's Supreme Court said Saturday that it would abandon measures to strengthen President Nicolas Maduro's grip on power after it was widely and harshly criticized.

In a ruling posted on its website, the Supreme Court said it was overturning its decision to diminish the legislative powers of the General Assembly, which opponents called a "coup d'etat".

Powerful Attorney General Luisa Ortega denounced two rulings announced late Wednesday, which effectively dissolved the opposition-majority legislature and revoked lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

"It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order," Ortega said in a speech on state television. "It's my obligation to express my great concern to the country."

A defiant Maduro defended the supreme court in an appearance Friday on state television and vowed to resolve the impasse between the attorney general and the court "through dialogue and the constitution.”

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a meeting with supporters in Caracas, March 31, 2017.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a meeting with supporters in Caracas, March 31, 2017.



Maduro said he called “upon the National Security Council to today at night, to deliberate and draw a resolution that will strengthen the Venezuelan constitution and give peace and tranquility to Venezuela."

He said in a speech to cheering supporters late Friday: "In Venezuela, the constitution, civil, political and human rights and people power are in full force."

Maduro's opponents and international powers, including the United States and governments across Latin America, condemned the Venezuelan Supreme Court rulings.

The United Nations' top human rights official expressed “grave concern'' and called on the high court to reverse its decision.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) compared it to a “self-inflicted coup” by the leftist Maduro. The OAS announced that it would hold an emergency meeting at its Washington headquarters Monday to discuss the situation in Venezuela.

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