Four of five governors from Venezuela's opposition bloc move away from their coalition's official position to swear themselves in before a Constituent Assembly that supports President Nicolas Maduro.
Four newly-elected opposition governors reluctantly pledged allegiance on Monday to Venezuela's Constituent Assembly, which until now they had dismissed as illegitimate, authorities said.
The governors broke with their coalition's official position to swear themselves in before a pro-government legislative superbody, in a major setback for Venezuela's opposition.
The Democratic Unity coalition went into the October 15 gubernatorial polls as favourites for a big win due to voter anger at a brutal economic crisis in the OPEC member, but it ended up only taking just five of 23 states.
Initially alleging fraud at the election, the opposition later acknowledged abstentionism in its ranks played a big part in the defeat, which cast into question its ability to beat the ruling Socialist Party at next year's presidential vote.
After the vote, the coalition said none of its winning candidates would "kneel" before the pro-President Nicolas Maduro Constituent Assembly body which it has refused to recognise since its establishment in a controversial election in July.
Pathetic socialist and fake opposition leader in Venezuela. Ramos Allup takes a knee before his Marxist masters, Castro and Maduro. Tragic👇🏻 https://t.co/LVBQygNeyb— Fernando Amandi Sr. (@FernandoAmandi) October 23, 2017
But the newly elected governors for Tachira, Merida, Nuevo Esparta and Anzoategui – all from the Democratic Action party, one of Venezuela's biggest and oldest – swore themselves in before assembly directors as a prerequisite to taking office.
"This is good news for the country," Constituent Assembly head Delcy Rodriguez said on state TV after the ceremony.
She chided the one opposition winning candidate, Juan Pablo Guanipa of Zulia state, for holding out.
Maduro had previously warned there may be a new election in any state where the winning candidate does not swear loyalty to the assembly.
Guanipa, of the Justice First party, said that he would not legitimise the "fraudulent" Constituent Assembly.
"Zulia will never bow before the dictatorship," he added in a series of tweets.
Buscan en nosotros quien convalide su inconstitucional ANC. El Zulia no se doblegará jamás ante la dictadura. ¡Seguimos de pie! pic.twitter.com/dkRw2FBYb5— Juan Pablo Guanipa (@JuanPGuanipa) October 23, 2017
One of the four governors, Laidy Gomez, likened it to humbly swallowing bitter medicine with the longer-term goal of healing.
"When people ask you not to abandon them, a leader's humiliation can be a way of achieving freedom," Gomez wrote on Twitter before the swearing in ceremony.
Cuando el Pueblo te implora que no le abandones,la Humillación de un líder es un medio para lograr Libertad #Tachira solo muerta te abandono— Laidy Gomez (@laidygomezf) October 23, 2017
Critics see the creation of the Constituent Assembly, which has superseded all powers including the opposition-led congress, as the cementing of Maduro grip in Venezuela.
But Maduro said it was the only way to bring peace back after four months of opposition protests this year that led to 125 deaths, thousands of arrests and injuries, and widespread damage to property and infrastructure.