Maduro Regime Forces Opposition Governors to Take Oath under Illegal Constituent Assembly

The Maduro regime in Venezuela announced that the five opposition officials who won state elections for governor this past weekend will not be able to take office until they agree to be sworn in by the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly. The decision, announced through the regime’s Official Gazette, represents an effective coup by President Nicolás Maduro.

The country’s political opposition coalition, The Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD by its Spanish acronym, went into Sunday’s elections expecting to take a majority of the country’s 23 states. But the process looked as fraudulent as the previous election held earlier this year. The National Electoral Council — with around 90-percent disapproval — announced the United Socialist Party candidates had taken 18 of 23 states.

Venezuela’s constitution says explicitly that newly elected governors are to be sworn in before their state’s Legislative Councils and not before a federal legislative body. However, Maduro’s regime maintains that, this time around, “those elected from the opposition will not be sworn in until they pass by the plenipotentiary body” (ie, Maduro’s Constituent Assembly).

“The mere oath of a Governor before the Constituent Assembly would be irrelevant,” Professor of Administrative Law Jose Ignacio Hernandez said, explaining that the Assembly is not a legislative body, but rather a de facto illegitimate entity.

“If the Constituent Assembly insists on taking oaths from the governors and they refuse, it’s not surprising that it intends to affect the exercise of the functions of governor, by virtue of their pseudo-constitutional powers,” Hernández said. “In the face of such a situation, citizens have to stand up for their votes.”

This Thursday, October 19, the legislative council of each state waited for orders from the Constituent Assembly about what to do with their elected governors. It’s still possible that their positions will be nullified, in which case, Maduro’s regime will appoint “acting governors” to replace them — most likely the presidents from each state’s legislative council.

The MUD announced that its five winning candidates won’t got before the Constituent Assembly, saying in a statement that the opposition will only submit to what is established in the constitution. The Constituent Assembly — composed exclusively of assembly members from the ruling party — was put into place by an illegitimate election denounced by the international community.

Governor elections have already been questioned or denounced by the European Union, the United States, Canada and a handful of Latin American countries that support the MUD’s request for an independent audit.

State Department spokesman Heather Nauert called the move “another example of the authoritarianism of the Maduro regime, and contempt for the will of the Venezuelan people.”

Even with this international support, it remains to be seen what other actions the Venezuelan opposition will take moving forward.

Nothing is by chance

The regional elections were initially scheduled to be held in December 2016, when terms for governor and the Legislative Councils were coming to an end. However, the National Electoral Council decided not to call the election, and later reported that they would be held in the first quarter of 2017. That also turned out to be false.

Months later, the National Electoral Council only summoned elections for governors ignoring and postponing the election of new legislative councils.

Now, with this new maneuver, the reasons for calling for state elections has become clear: The regime wanted the current legislative councils, who are mostly Chavistas, to force the opposition to submit to the Constituent Assembly and prevent winners from the opposition to assume those positions.

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