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Venezuelan opposition governors refuse to take oath before assembly

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) poses for photos with a group of governors-elect after a press conference with international media correspondents at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on October 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuela's coalition of opposition parties says its newly-elected governors would refuse to be sworn in before the pro-government Constituent Assembly.

Venezuela held a vote on July 30 to elect a new institution called the Constituent Assembly, which replaced the opposition-led National Assembly. The new body gave President Nicolas Maduro the power to rewrite the constitution.

Maduro has called on all governors, including the five new opposition ones, to swear allegiance to the Constituent Assembly. The opposition, however, does not recognize the body.

The opposition Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) said on Wednesday it would not allow its five governors to be subjected to "the blackmail of the fraudulent Constituent Assembly."

"We will only be sworn in before God and the respective legislative councils and not before the fraudulent Constituent Assembly," the MUD said in a statement shortly before a swearing-in ceremony at the legislative palace.

It was unclear early Wednesday whether the refusal would mean the governors are removed from office as Maduro has threatened to dismiss them.

However, constitutional specialist Jose Vincent Haro said the governors are not obliged to go before the assembly. "According to the constitution of each state they must be sworn in before the legislative council of their state."

Venezuela’s election officials said the Socialist Party of Maduro has won a landslide victory in the October 15 regional elections.

A Venezuelan woman votes during regional elections in Caracas' municipality of Chacao, October 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Maduro’s party won 17 of the 23 governorships in the country in the elections, and the MUD managed to grab only five. The opposition coalition refused to recognize the results and alleged that there had been irregularities in the voting process.

The Latin American country was the scene of months-long opposition protests earlier this year.

The unrest left at least 125 people from both camps dead and hundreds of others injured. The violence also led to thousands of arrests and caused widespread property destruction across the country, which is grappling with an economic crisis.

The socialist president has repeatedly accused the Venezuelan opposition of planning a “coup d’état” with the help of Washington.

Maduro has slammed the US and its regional allies for fueling recent political tensions gripping Venezuela by openly siding with the opposition.

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