The National Assembly held its inaugural session for 2019 today, swearing in a new executive committee headed by deputy Juan Guaido of the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will, VP) party. The 36-year-old will preside over the legislature for the remainder of the calendar year.
A defiant Guaido used his inaugural speech to tell Maduro that the National Assembly refused to swear him in as president on January 10, since it holds that he has usurped the presidency. Guaido also said that despite the regime’s constant attacks against political opposition in the country, “we refuse to surrender”.
We stress the illegitimacy of Nicolas Maduro (…) Starting on January 10, he will be usurping the presidency and as a consequence this National Assembly is the only legitimate representation of the people.
The event took place under the watchful eye of the regime, which closed off access to the legislature starting in the early morning hours. National Guard soldiers blocked roads and sidewalks around the National Assembly. Late last night, the area around the legislature also attracted police attention, since authorities claim to have found a grenade in the vicinity of the building.
Despite the heavy military presence in the area, the press was eventually granted access into the National Assembly to cover the day’s proceedings.
National Assembly to Meet January 8, Discuss “Transition”
Guaido also announced that the National Assembly will meet again on January 8, and that it will discuss what he calls “this grey period” in the political history of Venezuela. Guaido said:
On January 8 we’ll discuss the issue of how to take on this dark period, this period of transition towards democracy. We will list a number of important elements there.
Guaido also clarified that because the National Assembly will not swear Maduro into power on January 10, Venezuela’s presidency will experience not a vacuum, but rather “usurpation” by an illegitimate actor.
Maduro To Be Sworn In by Supreme Court
Speaking at an event this afternoon, Constituent Assembly president Diosdado Cabello said that Maduro will not be sworn in at the National Assembly January 10, but rather by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the nation’s top court.
Below, a tweet from the ruling PSUV party on Cabello’s announcement:
#CabelloSaid Because the National Assembly is in contempt, just as is established by article 231 of the Constitution of the Republic, President Maduro will be sworn in by the TSJ [the Supreme Court].
Article 231 of the Constitution states while the president is to be sworn in by the National Assembly, he or she may also be sworn in by the Supreme Court “if for any reason” the legislature cannot do so.
Shortly after Venezuelans elected a super-majority to the National Assembly in 2015, the Maduro regime began to argue that the legislature was “in contempt”, using the term to mean that its actions were illegitimate because they countered the actions of Maduro and the PSUV.
The TSJ–which is stacked with regime loyalists–played a key role in providing a thin veneer of legality for what became the regime’s main tactic to neutralize the legislature: simply ignoring every one of its actions.
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