Ahead of the parliamentary elections in Venezuela expected to be this year, leaders of two main opposition parties were ousted by the top court in country. Venezuela’s Supreme Court has always been seen as a loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.
This move by supreme court has sparked rumors of President Maduro tempering with the votes and election results. However, it hasn’t been formally conveyed and no comment from government in this matter has yet been publicized. This is a major development in an already political crisis-hit country.
The upcoming elections will be for electing a new National Assembly, which is the only group under control of opposition. This makes the looming elections meaningful. Speaker of National Assembly, Juan Guaido had declared himself interim President last year rejecting re-election of President Maduro in 2018 as illicit.
The Supreme Court ousted the board of directors for the Justice First party and replaced them with Jose Brito. Brito was expelled from party last year on corruption grounds and is said to be a shadow ally to President Nicolas Maduro.
Similarly, leaders of Democratic Action, one of the oldest parties in Venezuela, were suspended. They are to be replaced by Bernabe Gutierrez who was also expelled by party for “conspiring with the party of Nicolas Maduro.”
The court has however not commented on it being an election-eyeing decision to facilitate President Maduro. The Supreme Court has tagged the changes as “part of necessary restructuring process.”
Last week there were also restructuring of the Electoral Commission of Venezuela by the Supreme Court. There have been five new members added to the commission including Gutierrez’s brother, who is considered to be close to Maduro’s government, sources said.
Mr. Guaido is considered to be a legitimate leader by over 50 countries including European Union, US, UK and most of the South America nations.
The recent “restructuring” by Supreme Court in country is termed as “illegal” and “a reduction in democratic space”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that these new changes are a sign of Maduro’s attempt to manipulate constitution and elections.
President Maduro said on Tuesday on State TV, “We have a golden opportunity to change the National Assembly. The opposition used it to call for a military invasion and steal our assets abroad.”
The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has been ongoing for years leading to more than four million people fleeing the country, according to United Nations. The country lacks basic humanitarian aids, proper medicine and basic supply and unemployment, despite being an oil rich nation. With false number of reported coronavirus cases by the government, the crisis in Venezuela seems multifold.