Maduro-allied lawmakers return to Venezuela assembly


CARACAS, Venezuela – Lawmakers from President Nicolas Maduro's socialist party made a noisy return to the opposition-controlled National Assembly on Tuesday, September 24, ending a three-year boycott.

Socialist deputies chanted pro-Maduro slogans as they took their seats in the legislature to a barrage of booing from the opposition.

"This is an implicit recognition of the only legitimate body in Venezuela, which is the parliament," said National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president.

Socialist lawmaker Tania Diaz said it was "a democratic gesture of the legitimate government of Venezuela presided over by Nicolas Maduro."

Deputies from the ruling socialist party had walked out of the National Assembly in 2016 after losing control in elections, and the government set up its own body, the Constituent Assembly, to sideline the opposition-dominated legislature.

Maduro's party signed a pact earlier this month with fringe opposition parties paving the way for ruling party lawmakers to return to the legislature, a move aimed at disrupting Guaido's power base.

Maduro's government said it was making the move "in the interest of deepening and extending the dialogue" with the opposition.

The government announced the move after Guaido said earlier this month that talks aimed at resolving the country's long-running political impasse had ended.

The opposition controls two-thirds of the 167 National Assembly seats, but Venezuela's top court declared it in contempt and held its decisions to be null and void.

"We are ready to help them get out of contempt," said socialist lawmaker Francisco Torrealba, who was not allowed to take his seat as the opposition maintained he had lost it by taking a ministerial position. – Rappler.com