[JURIST] The Venezuelan Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday blocked four recently elected lawmakers from taking their seats in the General Assembly [official website, in Spanish]. Three are anti-government and one is member of the socialist party [AP report]. 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 ruling was made after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro [official website, in Spanish] 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 the 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."