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Venezuelan opposition launches trial against President Maduro

The opposition has called for street protests on Wednesday after the government blocked their bid to hold a referendum to remove Maduro from power. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Oct 25, 2016, 08.01 PM (IST)

Venezuela's political crisis deepened as the opposition-led national assembly on Tuesday voted to open a political and criminal trial against President Nicolas Maduro for violating democracy. 

A majority of lawmakers voted in favour of the motion after Maduro had blocked their drive for a referendum to remove him from power. "We will show clearly to Venezuela and the world that in this crisis, responsibility for breaking the constitution has clearly been Nicolas Maduro's," said majority leader Julio Borges.

The national assembly has ordered Maduro to appear at a session next Tuesday - which he will almost certainly refuse to do - and said it would also consider charges of abandoning his duties.

But the socialist government dismissed the move as meaningless, with the government and Supreme Court declaring congress illegitimate. 

Refering to the court rulings that measures in the congress are null and void until it removes three lawmakers linked to vote-buying claims, vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz said, "legally, the national assembly does not exist." 

The opposition has accused Maduro of veering into dictatorship by sidelining the referendum. They also hold him accountable for a dire economic crisis in the country. 

The opposition had earlier rejected the government claims that the opposition leaders had agreed to hold talks after the Vatican's intervention. 

They have called for nationwide street protests from Wednesday to raise pressure on the Maduro government. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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