The Venezuelan National Assembly [official website, in Spanish]] declared on Sunday that there is a breakdown of constitutional order and that the government had staged a coup [official statement, in Spanish] by blocking an attempt to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power. The movement was blocked when the president’s supporters stormed the chamber where the emergency legislative session was taking place. The National Assembly is led by the opposition party who claim that Maduro and his socialist government is the cause for the economic crisis which Venezuela is experiencing [BBC report].
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. In June government officials asked the Supreme Court to deny a referendum [JURIST report] to remove President Nicolas 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 reports]. The ruling had suspended four elected lawmakers for their involvement in alleged election fraud last December [JURIST report].