There was another chaotic scene at Venezuela’s National Assembly on Tuesday, with opposition leader Juan Guaidó gaining access to the legislative building after a tense stand-off with police. National Guards in riot gear had formed a cordon around the building, but Guaidó and another 100 opposition lawmakers broke through it.
The move comes two days after Guaidó was prevented from attending a vote to re-elect him as Speaker. He called it a “parliamentary coup”.
On Tuesday Guaidó arrived at the National Assembly building in a convoy of cars and buses carrying 100 lawmakers who back his re-election as Speaker. They were let through a number of checkpoints but not through the cordon of riot police surrounding the building. A tense stand-off ensued.
About 30 minutes, amid shouts of “this is not a military barracks” and “the people rule, not the military”, Guaidó and his supporters pushed their way past the guards. Guaidó tweeted footage of the moment they forced their way into the building.
Their arrival prompted pro-government lawmakers to leave.
Guaidó sat down in the Speaker’s chair. He and his supporters sang the national anthem before he was sworn in as Speaker.
A power cut forced them to use the flashlights on their mobile phones. Guaidó remarked that the lack of utilities was similar to what most Venezuelans faced on a daily basis. “This is the new normal, unfortunately,” he said
The melee follows similar scenes on Sunday when Guaidó and a number of opposition lawmakers were successfully barred from entering the building.
In his absence, dissident opposition lawmaker Luis Parra was elected Speaker. But National Assembly members backing Guaidó held a rival vote outside the chamber, re-electing him as Speaker.
Under the Venezuelan constitution, lawmakers elect a Speaker for a one-year term on 5 January.
Ahead of the vote, Guaidó said he was confident of having enough support to be re-elected. But on Sunday he and other lawmakers were prevented from entering the National Assembly by the National Guard.
Footage showed Guaidó attempting to jump the railing surrounding the building and being pushed back by police with shields.
Meanwhile, inside the chamber, there were chaotic scenes as government supporters clamoured for the election to go ahead regardless.
Eventually, an election was held despite the fact that there were not enough lawmakers for a quorum.
Luis Parra, a former ally of Guaidó who was expelled from the Justice First opposition party over corruption allegations, was chosen as Speaker by pro-government lawmakers and a number of dissident opposition politicians in a show of hands. In a Monday press conference, he said he remains an opponent of Maduro and plans to work for free elections.
Credit: BBC News, www.bbc.com