[JURIST] The Venezuelan Parliament [official website in Spanish] on Tuesday voted to open criminal impeachment proceedings against sitting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, alleging that he manipulated the constitution to remain in power. Arguing that Maduro staged a coup, the congress attempted to have Maduro accept a recall vote [Reuters report] by listening to the testimony of accusers, some of whom claim that Maduro is responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians, including children and other serious social ills in the country. Maduro, however, remains steadfast.
There has been considerable legislative tension between the pro-government controlled Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the opposition-majority National Assembly of Venezuela following the December election. On Sunday the Venezuelan National Assembly [JURIST report] declared that there is a breakdown of constitutional order and that the government had staged a coup by blocking an attempt to remove Maduro from power. In June government officials asked the Supreme Court to deny a referendum [JURIST report] to remove Maduro proposed by opposition leaders. In April Venezuela's opposition-led parliament approved [JURIST report] new referendum rules. In March the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that the Venezuelan national assembly may not review the appointment of 13 justices [JURIST report] to the high court by the Socialist Party. The 13 justices were sworn in on December 23, immediately prior to the exit of prior Socialist Party majority. In February the court upheld Maduro's economic emergency decree [JURIST report] as legal and valid despite a rejection by the national assembly. The decree allows the president to control the budget, companies and the currency. In January the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that all decisions from the opposition-led assembly would be void [JURIST report] until three opposition lawmakers were removed from their seats. The court's decision came days after the assembly swore in elected lawmakers that were temporarily barred by the court [JURIST report]. The ruling had suspended four elected lawmakers for their involvement in alleged election fraud last December [JURIST report].