Venezuela’s opposition sets up new showdown with Maduro

 09 Jan 2017 - 17:55

Venezuela’s opposition sets up new showdown with Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a television programme in Caracas on January 8, 2017. AFP / Presidencia de Venezuela

AFP

Caracas: Venezuela's opposition will seek Monday to trigger early elections by declaring that President Nicolas Maduro has "abandoned his post," launching a fresh political battle in a country fighting off economic collapse.

Kicking off its second year in control of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the opposition has installed a new legislative speaker and announced a fresh offensive against the leftist president it has vowed to oust.

It has scheduled a session for 1830 GMT on Monday dedicated to discussing Maduro's performance in office and "the need to open up an electoral solution to the crisis."

The opposition blames Maduro for an economic crisis that has prompted shortages of food and medicines.

He brands the crisis a US-backed capitalist conspiracy.

The courts have consistently overruled the assembly's motions against Maduro over the past year, however.

The socialist president also has the public backing of the military high command.

"We have to pressure the government, so that elections will be held," the new opposition speaker in the legislature, Julio Borges, said on Monday.

He said last week that the opposition would make a declaration that Maduro has "abandoned his post."

Venezuela's constitution says the National Assembly can force the president's replacement by issuing such a declaration.

But Maduro has easily swatted down the opposition's maneuvers against him so far.

He has used his grip on the courts, electoral council and military to stymie its previous strategies against him: a recall referendum, a legislative onslaught and street protests.