The Zulia state legislative assembly voted today in favour of removing governor-elect Juan Pablo Guanipa from his office by declaring his position “vacant” after Guanipa refused to be sworn in by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly. Guanipa reacted to the news by calling the move “a coup” that negated the will of the voters of Zulia state who elected him on October 15.
Guanipa was one of five opposition candidates elected in the October 15 gubernatorial elections. After repeated threats from Maduro that the opposition winners would not be allowed to take office unless they were sworn in by the Constituent Assembly, four of the elected governors yielded to the pressure and were sworn in by the Assembly.
As the lone holdout, Guanipa sided with a large section of the opposition which views the Constituent Assembly as a fraudulent body created only to lend legitimacy to Maduro’s authoritarian government. There is no requirement anywhere in Venezuelan law for governors to be sworn in by the Constituent Assembly.
It is not clear where the Zulia state assembly will proceed from this point. The state assembly–which is under the control of the ruling PSUV party–could appoint a replacement for Guanipa, or ask that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) hold new elections.
In the image below, the Zulia state assembly votes in favour of vacating Guanipa’s office:
European Union Grants Venezuelan Opposition Human Rights Price
The European Parliament (EP) has awarded the Venezuelan opposition the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for its work on human rights in the country and its stance against the Maduro regime.
The Prize–the full name of which is the Sakharov Price for Freedom of Thought--is named as Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, whose human rights activism in the Soviet Union won him the Noble Peace Prize in 1975. The Prize has previously been awarded to Nelson Mandela, Wei Jingsheng, and Malala Yousafzai.
European Parliament deputy Guy Verhofstadt spoke on the granting of the award to the Venezuelan opposition, saying:
This award supports the fight of democratic forces for a democratic Venezuela.
National Assembly president Julio Borges reacted to news of the award by calling for unity among the country’s opposition forces, namely the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) bloc which is currently on the brink of collapse. Borges said:
What is happening [the disagreements inside the MUD] is difficult thing, but it is up to us to find a clear path forward to unify our forces (…) It is up to us to take a stand and consolidate all of the gains that we have made.
[The award] is recognition for the struggle for liberty. It is evidence of the support [for Venezuelans] from the international community and the democracies of the world.
While announcing the awarding of the Prize, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said:
This award does not only represent recognition of the valiant resistance by the democratic opposition. Today, this Parliament wants to express its solidarity with and pay homage to all of the Venezuelan people.
Constituent Assembly Announces Municipal Election Vote
The Constituent Assembly approved a motion today to hold municipal elections throughout the country some time in December. The exact date of the elections was not announced.
Francisco Ameliach, the former governor of Carabobo state for the ruling PSUV party, introduced the motion at the Assembly by saying that he considered that holding the election in December would “help the opposition” to channel its efforts into democratic channels.
According to term limits set out in the national constitution, the municipal elections should have been held before the end 2016. However, the regime-controlled Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) postponed them in October of last year, saying that it would be impossible to hold them given that an electoral process–the failed recall referendum effort against Maduro–had already taken place that year.
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