Updated 4 months ago

Venezuela opposition puts pressure on President Maduro

Venezuelan congressmen put President Nicolas Maduro under more pressure by voting to put him on trial for violating democracy.

In a special session, congressmen said he had broken constitutional law and carried out a coup d'etat.

The move came days after officials blocked a popular vote on removing Mr Maduro from power.

Ruling party officials accuse the opposition of fraud while collecting signatures needed for the referendum.

During the rowdy session in Congress, which was interrupted by government supporters bursting into the chamber, the opposition majority leader Julio Borges accused Mr Maduro of breaking the law by not allowing the popular vote to take place.

"It is a political and legal trial against President Nicolas Maduro to see what responsibility he has in the constitutional rupture that has broken democracy, human rights and the future of the country."

Observers say the measures are unlikely to get any traction because, although the Congress is dominated by opposition parties, the government and the Supreme Court have systematically undermined the legislature.

Ruling party officials have accused the opposition of fraud and have linked party members to alleged foreign forces and a business establishment which they say is trying to bring down the left-wing government.

"The revolution will continue"
Congressmen also voted for nine other resolutions which included appealing to the international community for concrete support against Mr Maduro's government, and taking the National Electoral Council and judges who had blocked the referendum to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In a video message from Saudi Arabia, where President Maduro is discussing global oil prices, Mr Maduro reaffirmed that "the revolution will continue to win despite the constant pretentions of the right which is trying to take over power by unconstitutional means".

The opposition parties have called for a peaceful mass protest across Venezuela on Wednesday in which they say they will "retake Venezuela step by step".

Despite its oil wealth, Venezuela has been plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis which has led to shortages of basic goods and medicines.

Correspondents say many Venezuelans fear that the preventing of the referendum could increase political tension and the chances of social unrest.