Loading articles...

Venezuela court orders takeover of leading opposition party

National Guards stand in formation at the entrance to the National Assembly grounds to block opposition lawmakers, including Henry Ramos Allup, top left, from entering to attend a session in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó and lawmakers who back him pushed their way into the legislative building on Tuesday following an attempt by rival legislators to take control of the congress, and declared Guaidó the president of the only opposition-controlled institution. (AP Photo/Andrea Hernandez Briceño)

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s high court, loyal to President Nicolás Maduro, has ordered the takeover of one of the nation’s oldest and most influential political parties, which is now opposed to the socialist government.

The ruling by the Supreme Court on Monday suspended and replaced Democratic Action’s board of directors in a what it called a “necessary restructuring process.”

A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is in a deepening political and economic crisis after two decades of socialist rule that has driven mass migration and scarcities of basic goods. The U.S. and scores of other nations consider Maduro’s government illegitimate and recognize congressional leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.

Henry Ramos Allup, the leader of Democratic Action, said he would not abide by the court’s ruling. A political ally of Guaidó, Allup accused Maduro of “hijacking” the party.

“Democratic Action is going to resist these acts of shamelessness,” Allup said. “Nicolás Maduro has ordered the symbols of Democratic Action to be put into the hands of the corrupt.”

The court days earlier seated a new elections council ahead of a vote expected this year in a battle for control of the National Assembly, the only branch of government Maduro doesn’t control.

The unilateral appointments to the council were especially disheartening to some moderate opponents of Maduro who had been trying to reach an accord with the government for minimal guarantees for a free and fair vote.

The new National Electoral Council includes names of members of Democratic Action, who Allup said he does not recognize.

Democratic Action, which was formed in the 1930s, is among the Venezuela’s four most powerful opposition parties. They also include Guaidó’s Popular Will along with Justice First and A New Time.

Officials have not set a date for the election, which is required this year by the nation’s constitution. Allup accused Maduro’s government of acting acting in bad faith.

“It’s a new manoeuvr by the regime, a new assault in an attempt to give a hint of credibility to the electoral farce that it’s planning to carry out this year to supposedly elect a new National Assembly,” said Allup, vowing not to participate in any “fraudulent elections.”

The Associated Press