[JURIST] The Venezuelan Supreme Court on Monday ruled that decisions from the opposition dominated General Assembly [official websites, in Spanish] are void until three barred lawmakers are relieved from their seats. The three lawmakers are part of an anti-government party that threatens the structure of the government. The court believes that the presence of these lawmakers on the assembly would place a super-majority in the hands of Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and would give the party power to censure top government officials or even change the constitution. The decision comes after the lawmakers were sworn in last week despite the Venezuelan Supreme Court barring [JURIST reports] them from taking their seat in congress to protect the country's current political state. Many critics believe [BBC report] that the conflict between the court and legislature will continue the political turmoil and bring instability in the coming weeks.
The Venezuelan Supreme Cout ruling came after President Nicolás Maduro claimed in a speech that the December 6 polls in which his party lost control of the National Assembly were fraudulent and challenged his opponents' victory in the courts. The election results are seen as a setback to the ruling party [statement, in Spanish]. Jesus Torrealba, executive secretary for MUD, said in an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that "[t]his is a victory for democracy." He went on to say on Twitter [official account] that "The National Assembly represents the sovereignty of the people, and the president is trying to violate that using a biased court. On January 5, we will swear in the National Assembly and preserve that sovereignty as the Venezuelan people and international observers look on."