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Venezuela top court dissolves legislature

[JURIST] Venezuela's Supreme Court of Venezuela [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday essentially dissolved [decision, in Spanish] the opposition-controlled National Assembly, assuming all legislative powers. The court ruled that because the legislature had defied previous court rulings, all of its decisions are invalid. The move has been decried as a "coup" [Miami Herald report] by the opposition and has already been condemned by the international community.

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 2015 election. Last November the National Assembly postponed a symbolic trial of President Nicolas Maduro in an effort to ease political tension in the nation [JURIST report]. In October the National Assembly voted to open criminal impeachment proceedings [JURIST report] against Maduro, alleging that he manipulated the constitution to remain in power. That same month the Assembly also declared [JURIST report] 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.

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