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Top Venezuela court urges revocation of Guaido’s immunity

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 opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a rally in the San Bernardino neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, on April 1, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has urged the National Constituent Assembly to strip opposition figure Juan Guaido of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

In a ruling issued on Monday, Supreme Court Justice Maikel Moreno asked lawmakers to revoke the immunity that Guaido holds as a member of the National Assembly, even though the opposition-held body has been dissolved.

The ruling against Guaido was issued over his violation of a travel ban that was imposed against him by the Supreme Court back in January for his role in “serious crimes that threaten the constitutional order.” The opposition figure visited Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Paraguay between late February and early March.

In January, Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president,” disputing the outcome of the May 2018 election, which President Nicolas Maduro won. He has been accusing Maduro of “usurping power” and calling on him to step down.

The court’s decision could pave the way for the prosecution of Guaido, who is reportedly under investigation for inciting violence against the government and receiving illicit funds. It comes just days after Guaido was banned from holding public office for 15 years.

The United States and a number of its allies have endorsed Guaido’s self-proclamation as “interim president” of Venezuela. The US has also imposed sanctions on Caracas, and has threatened it with potential military intervention to remove Maduro. Other countries have rejected this, calling for non-interference in Venezuelan affairs.

The political turmoil comes amid difficult living conditions in Venezuela. In March, three major blackouts hit Venezuela, leaving millions without electricity and water. The government has blamed the repeated blackouts on sabotage.

The power outage prompted Maduro to announce 30 days of electricity rationing on Sunday and replace the country’s energy minister the next day.

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