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Venezuela: lawmakers approve criminal trial for Maduro

Posted by UPI on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 Under: Latin America

Opposition members in Venezuela's parliament voted Tuesday to order embattled President Nicolas Maduro to stand trial on charges he's violated the Constitution to remain in power amid continuing upheaval in the country.

Maduro has been fighting constituents, opponents in the Caracas government and other world leaders for months due to social, political and economic turmoil in the South American nation.

Last week, Maduro's regime scrapped a scheduled referendum petition that sought to determine whether the three-year Venezuelan president should be recalled and replaced. Maduro's opponents in the government said the move to sidestep a recall vote amounted to a coup d'etat.

Tuesday, members of parliament voted to open criminal and political trial proceedings against the controversial and fiery leader, who was hand-picked by the even more controversial former President Hugo Chavez to take over after his death in April 2013.

Venezuelan lawmakers have said Maduro's shelving of the recall vote, among other things, is what led to charges he violated the Constitution and facilitated the "breakdown of constitutional order."

Voters most likely would have voted to recall Maduro; a recent poll showed that 75 percent of Venezuelans said they disapproved of the leader.

Maduro's regime, however, didn't exactly recoil with Tuesday's parliamentary vote.

"Legally, the National Assembly does not exist," Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz responded, noting that a Venezuelan court previously ruled that the parliament is illegitimate -- and anything it might decide is not formally binding.

Maduro, however, appears open to adopting a new approach to solving the crisis.

On Monday, he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where the pontiff advocated the Venezuelan leader work with opposition leaders instead of fighting them. A short time later, Maduro's government surprisingly announced it would indeed begin crisis talks with opposing members.

The Vatican and Union of South American Nations will mediate in the talks.

Despite the regime's new approach, opposing lawmakers didn't appear Tuesday to believe anything will change.

"We will show clearly to Venezuela and the world that in this crisis, responsibility for breaking the Constitution has clearly been Nicolas Maduro's," parliament majority leader Julio Borges said.

"In Venezuela we are battling Satan!" another opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said.

Capriles also solidified plans for nationwide protests on Wednesday, called the "Takeover of Venezuela."

In : Latin America 

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