Opposition Lawmaker: Venezuelan Parliament to Seek Impeachment of Maduro

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Opposition Lawmaker: Venezuelan Parliament to Seek Impeachment of Maduro

By Lucas Koerner

Opposition legislator Freddy Guevara announced on Tuesday that the right-wing controlled National Assembly (AN) would pursue impeachment proceedings against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for an alleged breach of the country’s constitution.

“The AN will seek impeachment against Nicolas Maduro for violation of the constitution,” the lawmaker stated via his Twitter account, offering no further details.

Guevara, a member of Leopoldo Lopez’s far right Popular Will party, made the announcement a day after Venezuela’s opposition coalition, the MUD, delivered 1.85 million signatures to the National Electoral Council (CNE), far surpassing the threshold of 1 percent of the electorate required to begin the recall referendum process.

The heterogenous opposition coalition– composed of over a dozen distinct parties with diverse ideologies and programs– has in recent weeks converged around a recall referendum as the favored option to unseat the democratically elected Chavista President Nicolas Maduro.

In February, the MUD unveiled a four-pronged strategy to oust Maduro, including street protests to force his resignation, a constitutional amendment shortening the presidential term by two years, a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, and a recall referendum.

However, a string of poorly attended street demonstrations and a recent Supreme Court ruling declaring the proposed amendment only applicable to future presidential terms has led the coalition to rally behind the recall referendum.

On Sunday, the MUD claimed it had successfully collected 2.5 million signatures for a recall in a move that was praised by Guevara, who has called for “popular pressure” to ensure that the referendum is held this year despite time constraints.

The lawmaker’s subsequent announcement of impeachment proceedings against Maduro marks the first time that this option for unseating the leftist head of state has been floated by the Venezuelan opposition, revealing possible cracks within the coalition.

Neither Guevara nor any other opposition leader has made any further statements regarding the impeachment of the president.

UPDATE: Venezuelan Opposition Submits 1.85M Signatures Against Maduro
By Lucas Koerner

Venezuela’s right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), turned over 1.8 million signatures in support of a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Monday.

As part of the initial requirement to solicit a recall, the MUD was given 30 days to collect signatures from 1 percent of the electorate in each of the 23 states– 197,721 total signatures nationwide– a target which the coalition managed to surpass in a matter of days, accruing as many as 2.5 million overall.

However, despite submitting the signatures to the CNE on Monday, the MUD was informed that it would have to wait the full 30 day period before the biometric verification process could begin.

“The 30 day period set for the collection of 1% of signatures must be completed before starting the verification phase,” announced CNE Rector Tania D’Amelio via her official Twitter account on Sunday.

The statement by the electoral official was met with a barrage of criticism by opposition leaders, who disparaged the move as a delaying tactic allegedly aimed at preventing the referendum from being held this year.

“No one doubts that CNE Rector Tania D’Amelio is a stalwart member of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) and is proceeding to impede a recall referendum this year,” declared right-wing National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup, who offered no evidence to back his claim.

Freddy Guevara, a legislator with Leopoldo Lopez’s far right Popular Will party, responded to the announcement by publishing a call to “popular mobilization” on his Facebook page in the event that the CNE does not validate the signatures by Saturday, five days after their initial submission.

Once the CNE completes the verification process for the recall request, the body will set a 72-hour period for the MUD to collect the signatures of 20% of the electorate as specified by the Constitution, which amounts to nearly 4 million signatures in total.

If the opposition reaches the target and no errors or forgeries are detected, the CNE will be obliged to schedule a recall referendum within the next 90 days.

In order for the MUD to successfully revoke the president’s mandate and trigger new presidential elections, it must garner equal or greater votes for the recall than President Maduro received in 2013– 7,587,579 votes.

If the referendum is not held by the close of this year, a successful recall vote will oust the sitting president but will not trigger new presidential elections, allowing the vice-president to serve out the rest of the president’s term.

Venezuela’s Opposition Collects 1.5 Million Signatures Against Maduro
Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski has claimed that the rightwing Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition has collected more than 1.5 million signatures in support of a recall referendum against incumbent president Nicolas Maduro.

Leopoldo Lopez’s the Popular Will Party had a significant presence at the event, as well as Justice First and A New Path.
Above: Opposition legislator, Freddy Guevara, and Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, sign the petition.

“Good morning, at 7.30am we will be in the CNE (National Electoral Council). We already have 1.500.000+ signatures. We will give more details! For now, they aren’t necessary!,” tweeted the former presidential candidate.

The MUD officially began collecting signatures in support of a referendum on Wednesday. According to CNE rules, the political coalition has 30 days to garner backing from 1% of the electorate in every state, amounting to 195,721 signatures nationwide.

But MUD spokespeople reported that they had surpassed this figure just hours after opening signature collection stalls, and social media and television reports depict thousands of Venezuelans heading to public squares and other collection points to sign against Maduro.

Many cite the country’s worsening economic crisis and increasing insecurity as their reasons for signing, while others are longterm opponents of the leftist Bolivarian revolution.

For its part, the government has cited the referendum as part of an ongoing ‘unconventional war” against it.

President Nicolas Maduro stated on Thursday night that the opposition did not have what it takes to govern the country in the face of the economic crisis.

“Can you imagine one of those bourgeois having to deal with this? They’d be on the floor crying, asking Obama for help!,” he said on national television.

The activation of the steps towards a recall referendum means the country is looking at an uncertain future, as well as months of mobilisations on the nation’s streets.

Once all signatures collected in this initial stage have been verified by the CNE, the MUD will have 72 hours to get 20% of the electorate to sign a petition in support of the recall referendum. If successful, the national plebiscite will be organised within 90 days.

Maduro won Venezuela’s 2013 national elections by a knife edge against Henrique Capriles Radonski, with 7,587,579 (50.6%) votes to 7,363,980 (49.1%).

But popular support for the revolution has steadily dropped over the last three years.

In last December’s legislative elections, the opposition managed to increase its total number of national votes to 7,728,025, while the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s electoral share dropped to 5625,248.

In order to remove Maduro in a potential recall referendum, a number equal to or greater than 7,587,579 will have to vote for his dismissal