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Suspended Venezuelan lawmakers resign to end standoff

By Andrew V. Pestano
Romel Guzamana, left, Nirma Guarulla, center, and Julio Ygarza, right, resigned from their positions as elected members of Venezuela's unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, to end a political standoff between the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro's regime. Photo courtesy of the National Assembly.
Romel Guzamana, left, Nirma Guarulla, center, and Julio Ygarza, right, resigned from their positions as elected members of Venezuela's unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, to end a political standoff between the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro's regime. Photo courtesy of the National Assembly.

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Three members of Venezuela's Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition on Tuesday resigned from the National Assembly to end a political standoff with President Nicolas Maduro and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.

The deputies -- Julio Ygarza, Nirma Guarulla and Romel Guzamana from the Amazonas state -- agreed to resign from their posts with the precondition that elections would be held. On Tuesday, Maduro said elections would be held "very soon."

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"We address you with the purpose of requesting the disembodiment from our position as deputies of the National Assembly in representation of the electors of the state Amazonas," the three now-former lawmakers wrote in a letter read by National Assembly Secretary Roberto Marrero during session.

In late December, Venezuela's high court -- the Supreme Tribunal of Justice -- suspended the three coalition members and one pro-government member pending an investigation into allegations of electoral fraud.

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Despite the court suspension, the opposition swore in the three suspended lawmakers -- twice. Maduro's regime deemed the act "unconstitutional" and dismissed the legislative body's operations as "unlawful."

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The high court has been repeatedly criticized as acting as an extension of the socialist regime established under former President Hugo Chavez.

The suspension removes the opposition coalition's two-thirds qualified majority, which would enable it to remove judges from the court. The opposition has vowed to regain its qualified majority, also known as a supermajority, in order to remove justices, particularly after Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela was accused of stacking the court before the opposition gained control of parliament after December elections.

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In August, Maduro threatened to block the opposition-controlled National Assembly from receiving resources due to the controversy.

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