Venezuela’s Supreme Court has ruled that it can take over responsibilities assigned to congress in what opponents of President Nicolas Maduro are decrying as the latest attempt to install a dictatorship in the South American nation.
In a decision late Wednesday night, the magistrates said that as long as lawmakers remain in contempt of past court rulings nullifying all legislation coming out of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the high court can step in and assume congressional duties itself.
Peru’s government immediately recalled its ambassador in protest and condemnations poured in from several regional governments. The head of the Organization of American States called for an emergency meeting to deal with what he called a “self-inflicted coup d’etat” against the congress.
Maduro has jailed scores of opponents and ridden roughshod over lawmakers’ powers ever since the opposition swept congressional elections in 2015 and immediately set out to remove the socialist leader from office through a recall referendum.