The Venezuelan National Assembly declared Monday the “abandonment of office” by the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, despite the order against such a vote by the Supreme Court. The parliamentary House demanded an electoral exit to the crisis so that “the people express their will through the vote”. “The only way to solve the serious problems that afflict the country is to return power to the people of Venezuela and, therefore, to call for the holding of free and plural elections,” said the agreement approved with the vote of 106 parliamentarians, all of which belong to opposition political parties. The majority of the Chamber considers Maduro’s management to be outside his constitutional functions and blame him for the “serious rupture of the constitutional order”, violation of human rights and “the devastation of the economic and social pillars” of the nation. According to the Venezuelan Constitution, some ways in which the president would be absent from his position would include his death or resignation, the dismissal ordered by the Supreme Court of Justice, his physical or mental incapacity, popular revocation of his term and his removal from office by the National Assembly. The vote to remove Maduro from office mandates that a new election be carried out. That election must be universal, direct and the vote of all Venezuelans must be kept secret, as it’s common in most Latin American countries. The Constitution also establishes that the president is responsible for his acts and the fulfillment of the obligations inherent to his office and that he is obliged to seek the guarantee of the rights and freedoms of the Venezuelans. The removal from his position would be decreed by the breach of his obligations, which is what the Parliament has taken into account before voting. Among the reasons why the opposition voted to remove Maduro from office is their claim that Maduro has neglected the functions “inherent” to the presidency and has not “fulfilled and enforced” the constitutional order. One of them would be that, according to the Chamber, Maduro “has advocated and consummated the suppression of separation of powers” in the country “by supporting the partisan occupation of the Supreme Court of Justice and the National Electoral Council.” Parliament, therefore, blames Maduro for the “coup d’état” which, in their view, “led to the suspension of the gathering of necessary support for the constitutional initiative to call for a referendum to remove Maduro from office”. That initiative was also based on the opposition’s claim that Maduro caused the “deferral” of regional elections that should have been held in 2016. They also accuse him of being a co-responsible for “political persecution” that has not ceased and that, on the contrary, “has increased”. The use of the constitutional figure of “abandonment of office” by the Nationa Assembly has been questioned by some opposition parties and civil society groups such as the Venezuelan Education Action Program on Human Rights, which considers it a “Forced interpretation of the Magna Carta. Prior to the discussion on the alleged removal of Maduro, Parliament also voted to remove the three deputies whose investiture was challenged by the Supreme Court and for which it had declared all legislative acts invalid.
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