- Title: Venezuelan court overturns decision to allow lawmakers to vote virtually
- Date: 19th December 2019
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (DECEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF THE VENEZUELAN SUPREME COURT IN SESSION (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN MAGISTRATE, JUAN JOSE MENDOZA, SAYING: "The National Assembly, in contempt, purported to violate the constitutional and republican bases of the Venezuelan state, when trying to ignore the personal and face-to-face performance of the parliamentary function and recognizing the quality of deputies to people who do not have a physical residence in Venezuelan territory, and who abandoned the exercise of their parliamentary functions." MAGISTRATE SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN MAGISTRATE, JUAN JOSE MENDOZA, SAYING: "The National Attorney is urged to criminally investigate the alleged materialization of constitutive behaviors of criminal types contemplated in the law." MAGISTRATES LEAVING THE SESSION CARACAS, VENEZUELA (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER, JUAN GUAIDO, ARRIVING AT CONGRESS SESSION VARIOUS OF LAWMAKERS VOTING TO PASS LAW LAWMAKERS CHANTING SLOGANS
- Embargoed: 2nd January 2020 19:11
- Keywords: Caracas Juan Guaido President Nicolas Maduro Supreme court Venezuela Venezuelan Congress opposition
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAN8JLV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuela's Supreme Court on Thursday (December 19) overturned a decision from the country's opposition-run congress that allowed lawmakers to vote virtually, a decision prompted by a government crackdown that has pushed dozens of legislators out of the country or into hiding.
Magistrate Juan JosÃ© Mendoza, who announced the decision, said voting on legislation from afar violates the Venezuelan constitution that requires a lawmaker be present. Mendoza also urged the prosecutor's office to investigate the National Assembly's decision, citing potential criminal conduct.
On Tuesday (December 17), the opposition-controlled National Assembly authorized its deputies to participate virtually in votes, as about 30 of its members are out of the country or in hiding due to judicial proceedings. Previously, the legislature could not approve measures without the physical presence of 50 percent of the legislators or their substitutes.
President Nicolas Maduro's government, which has for years ignored congressional decisions, has launched criminal investigations into opposition lawmakers, a move critics call an intimidation campaign to silence adversaries.
Opponents also consider the prosecutions an attempt by the government to close the only institutional space the opposition has: The National Assembly headed by opposition leader Juan GuaidÃ³, who is running for re-election Jan 5.
The reform to voting procedures was intended to increase the number of legislators who would have been eligible to participate in the January election for congressional leadership. Opposition leaders say the ruling Socialist Party is seeking to prevent Guaido's re-election by pressuring legislators not to be present for the session.
The day after the National Assembly's vote, three legislators, who split from the opposition amid allegations of accepting bribes from the ruling Socialist Party, asked the Supreme Court to declare the decision null.
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