- Title: Venezuela congress presses for Maduro trial, escalating standoff
- Date: 23rd October 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MADURO BEING DRIVEN DOWN STREET DURING RALLY MADURO ON STAGE CLOSE-UP OF MADURO VARIOUS OF MADURO WAVING FLAG AT RALLY
- Embargoed: 7th November 2016 17:42
- Keywords: Nicolas Maduro National Assembly recall referendum opposition
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0035585EF7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly on Sunday (October 23) vowed to put Nicolas Maduro on trial for violating democracy, days after authorities nixed a recall referendum against the unpopular leftist president.
The measure is unlikely to get traction given the government and a compliant Supreme Court have systematically undermined the legislature, but it marked a further escalation of political tensions in the crisis-hit OPEC nation.
"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," said opposition majority leader Julio Borges during a special congressional session.
In Sunday's raucous session, lawmakers traded barbs, with ruling party politicians showing up in t-shirts adorned with late leader Hugo Chavez's eyes while opposition congressmen chanted "The people are hungry and want a recall!"
Likening Maduro to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Peru's authoritarian ex-president Alberto Fujimori, opposition lawmakers also vowed to replace deans at the electoral council and judges on the Supreme Court, though that too is unlikely to see the light.
The opposition coalition, seeking to end 17 years of socialism in the South American nation, says Thursday's suspension of its drive for a plebiscite against Maduro shows Venezuela has abandoned democracy.
Ruling party officials accuse the opposition of fraud in their signature drive and say the coalition is seeking a coup to gain control of Venezuela's vast crude reserves, the world's largest.
Despite that oil wealth, Venezuela has plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis, with many people skipping meals due to shortages and soaring prices.
Many Venezuelans fear preventing the referendum increases chances of social unrest in the already volatile and violent country.
The opposition coalition has called for a major peaceful protest on Wednesday, dubbed "The takeover of Venezuela".
Meanwhile, Maduro, who was seen his popularity tumble as the recession worsens, was on a four-day tour of oil-producing countries to push for an OPEC deal.
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