The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Supreme Court, TSJ) has moved to replace the leadership of two opposition parties in back-to-back rulings aimed at Accion Democratica (AD) and Primero Justicia (PJ). Opposition figures claim that the measures are meant to de-fang the parties and have them headed by hand-picked government puppets.
The first ruling came last night, when the TSJ removed Henry Ramos Allup from the leadership of AD, one of the largest opposition parties in the country, and replaced him with Bernabe Gutierrez.
The move from the TSJ caused consternation not only within AD but also other political parties, including the Partido Comunista de Venezuela (Venezuelan Communist Party), which issued a statement calling on the TSJ to respect the right of political parties to oversee their own affairs.
AD reacted by calling the TSJ’s ruling “illegal”, and reiterated that Henry Ramos Allup continues to be the party’s leader. At the same time, AD National Assembly deputy Carlos Prosperi said that the party would move to expel Gutierrez from the party “in the coming hours”.
Then, this evening, the TSJ targeted PJ by placing the party under the leadership of an ad hoc committee of its choosing. Henrique Capriles Radonski, one of the leading members of PJ, called the move an attack on democracy meant to discourage Venezuelans from voting in subsequent elections. On its new leadership, Capriles said:
To whom have they given Primero Justicia? To nobodies. To scorpions. To corrupt trash.
The rulings are the latest example of the Court’s willingness to take direct action against opposition individuals and institutions. Firmly under the control of the ruling PSUV party, the TSJ has long acted to neutralize opposition figures and parties while protecting the government.
National Assembly Votes to Reject All Elections Organized by CNE
The National Assembly approved a motion today vowing to reject any election organized by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Council, CNE), the government’s official election arm. The move follows the Maduro government’s unilateral appointment of new leadership at the CNE last week, which the opposition claims guarantees that the body will not act in a fair and impartial manner.
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