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Venezuela's opposition legislators targeted after 'absolutely unconstitutional' AG comment

By Andrew V. Pestano
Venezuela's opposition legislators targeted after 'absolutely unconstitutional' AG comment
The Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition last week swore in -- for the second time -- three suspended legislators who won seats in the historic Dec. 6 elections. On Sunday, Venezuela's National Electoral Council said any actions taken by the suspended members were null and void. Photo courtesy of National Assembly

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Venezuela's election commission on Sunday upheld the suspension of three opposition National Assembly members after the country's attorney general declared the parliament "absolutely unconstitutional."

The National Electoral Council, or CNE, on Sunday confirmed that actions taken by Julio Ygarza, Nirma Guaruya and Romel Guzamana -- opposition parliament members from the state of Amazonas -- were nullified. The members were sworn in for the second time last week by the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition in an act of defiance.

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In late December, Venezuela's highest court -- the Supreme Tribunal of Justice -- suspended the three coalition members and one pro-government member who were elected to the National Assembly in the historic Dec. 6 elections pending an investigation of allegations of electoral fraud.

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The suspension removes the opposition coalition's two-thirds super-majority, which would enable it to remove judges from the Supreme Court, particularly after the outgoing United Socialist Party of Venezuela -- led by President Nicolas Maduro -- was accused of stacking the court before the change of power.

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Venezuelan constitutional experts disagree on the circumstances surrounding the suspension and whether the three should be allowed to serve in the legislature during the election investigation. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice has been repeatedly criticized as acting as an extension of the socialist regime established under former President Hugo Chavez.

After the opposition swore in the suspended legislators again, Venezuelan Attorney General Reinaldo Muñoz said the opposition-controlled National Assembly was illegitimate.

"The National Assembly has created an absolutely unconstitutional and unlawful situation that can not be recognized or supported by the agencies and entities of the public administration. It can neither claim -- that legislative organ -- legitimacy, juridicity or legality any respect of its actions until it fixes the infringed situation and returns to constitutionality," Muñoz said in a statement.

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