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News > Latin America

Venezuela's Security Council Asks Supreme Court to Reconsider National Assembly Verdict

  • Venezuela's National Defense Council during a special meeting in Caracas. March 31, 2017

    Venezuela's National Defense Council during a special meeting in Caracas. March 31, 2017 | Photo: TeleSUR

Published 31 March 2017

The announcement comes after the country's attorney general criticized a controversial ruling by Venezuela's Supreme Court.

Venezuela's National Defense Council has requested that the country's top court reconsider a decision made earlier this week, the country's presidential office tweeted Saturday morning.

President Nicolas Maduro had promised to addressed the impasse between the country's major institutions, calling a meeting this evening to resolve the differences between the Supreme Court and the attorney general.

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"I am activating Article 323 of the constitution, and have already summoned the Security Council to process and resolve any differences that may exist between constituted powers," Maduro said Friday. "There is a controversy and it must be resolved through dialogue, not with extreme positions or by giving arguments to those who want to intervene Venezuela."

The Venezuelan president referred to statements earlier Friday by Venezuela's Attorney General Luisa Ortega criticizing a decision by the top court, calling it “a rupture in the constitutional order.”

In a Wednesday ruling on an appeal filed by the Venezuelan Corporation of Petroleum to Article 33 of the Organic Law of Hydrocarbons, the court stated that the National Assembly had authority to approve such ventures. The court ruled that since the National Assembly continues to be in contempt of the constitution, the top court will "ensure the rule of law" and will exercise parliamentary powers where necessary in the ruling issued today on the joint venture.

"As long as the disrespect and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persists, this Constitutional Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the body it has in place to ensure the rule of law," said the ruling.

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The U.S. State Department responding by calling the verdict an attempt to "usurp" the power of the National Assembly, while OAS General Secretary and opposition ally Luis Almagro said Venezuela was undergoing a "self-coup." Regional leaders including Juan Manuel Santos and Michelle Bachelet expressed concerns, while Bolivia and Ecuador called for Unasur-mediated negotiations to advance.

While opponents of the Bolivarian government have often trumpeted claims of lack of separation of powers in the South American nation, the Venezuelan leader responded that he knew nothing of either the statement by Ortega, nor the court decision Wednesday.

"But since I apparently control everything, I suppose I wrote both the attorney general's statement and the court's statement," Maduro said sarcastically.

Since January 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly was in contempt of the constitution over fraud charges involving opposition deputies from the state of Amazonas. The officials were caught in a recording illegally offering sums of taxpayer money to citizens, encouraging them to vote for opposition candidates. When the Supreme Court ordered the National Assembly to hold elections to replace the corrupt leaders, the legislative body refused to follow the appropriate process to do so.

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