Venezuelan congress passes law to speed up recall referendums

Venezuela’s opposition-backed congress approves new law to speed up process of recall referendums to overthrow President Maduro

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A general view of Venezuela's National Assembly during a session in Caracas, Venezuela, April 20, 2016.

Venezuelan parliament approved a law to speed up the process of requesting recall referendums on Wednesday, as opponents of President Nicolas Maduro seek to push him from office.

The country’s constitution allows elected officials to be recalled via referendum as they complete half of their term in office.

The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable which won two third majority in parliament with 112 members in 2015 elections passed the law against Maduro’s United Socialist Party which has only 55 members in parliament.

Maduro was elected in 2013 by a narrow margin of 50.61 percent against 49.12 percent, for six years in office.

He succeeded his deceased mentor, Hugo Chavez and faced a great number of domestic and international political challenges.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) greets supporters outside an health center during an event to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the "Barrio Adentro" health programme in Caracas, in this handout picture provided by Miraflores Palace on April 16, 2016.

The law is a challenge to the country's elections council, which earlier this month said it, rather than the assembly, should be in charge of regulating referendums.

The measure also risks being struck down by the supreme court, which has repeatedly sided with Maduro in disputes between the executive branch and the congress.

Ruling Socialist Party deputies said congress had staged a "parliamentary coup" by encroaching on the powers of the electoral authority in violation of the constitution.

Venezuealan nation is divided with millions supporting Maduro alongside a growing number of people criticising the bad economy.

The fall in global oil prices has plunged the once-wealthy petrostate into serious crisis, depriving it of the foreign currency it needs to pay for imports.

Inflation rose up to three digit numbers, marked more than 180 percent in 2015.

The country also faces embargoes from US on many goods including food and drugs.

Maduro suggested that Venezuela should end its heavy reliance on oil and encourage the export of ready-made products.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shout during a rally against the opposition's law granting titles of property to beneficiaries of Mission Housing, a low-income social housing project, in Caracas April 14, 2016.

According to Datanalisis’s oppinion pool in February, two-thirds of Venezuelans believe Maduro's presidency should end this year.

The assembly also began discussing a constitutional amendment that would cut the presidential term to four years from six, however supporters of Maduro insist congress cannot retroactively change his term in office, such a measure could apply only to future presidencies.

Experts say Venezuela's opposition can succeed only through politics or at the ballot box.

TRTWorld and agencies