Venezuelan opposition cries foul over 'judicial coup' as court blocks swearing in of politicians

The socialist government led by President Nicolas Maduro lost control of the national assembly at elections earlier this month

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The Independent US

Venezuela’s opposition has complained of a “judicial coup” after the Supreme Court suspended the inauguration of three new legislators, preventing the coalition parties from claiming the two-thirds “super-majority” they won in last month’s elections.

The socialist government led by President Nicolas Maduro lost control of the national assembly at elections on December 6, for the first time since Mr Maduro’s late predecessor Hugo Chavez took power in 1999.

The opposition won 112 of the assembly’s 167 seats, precisely the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution, threatening Mr Maduro’s policies and his rule.

Mr Maduro originally accepted the opposition’s victory, but has since accused his rivals of “playing dirty” and buying votes. His party had called for the Supreme Court injunction, which was issued on Wednesday and prevents the newly elected lawmakers being sworn in on Tuesday, pending a court challenge.

The Court also blocked a fourth incoming assembly member from Mr Maduro’s Socialist party. Mr Maduro has previously insisted the voting system is fraud proof.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Jesús Torrealba, a spokesman for the opposition’s coalition, accused Mr Maduro and the socialist government of a “judicial coup against the decision of the Venezuelan people expressed at the voting booth.” The opposition has said the three new assembly members will turn up to be sworn in regardless.

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