CARACAS - The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) late Wednesday ordered the "provisional and immediate" suspension of three opposition lawmakers and a ruling Socialist Party deputy, just a week before the start of a new Parliament following the general elections in December.
This leaves the opposition with 109 elected representatives in the new parliament, which begins on January 5.
However, the court is yet to specify the quorum of the new House, which could determine if the opposition still retains the two-third "super-majority" it won in December.
A Chavista legislator also stands suspended along with all other representatives from Amazonas state.
The TSJ also received requests for four protective mechanisms but did not consider it appropriate to issue them.
Shortly after the court's decision was announced, opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, declared it void and said all the 112 elected opposition representatives who have been certified and proclaimed by the government dominated electoral board CNE will assume office on January 5 despite the ruling.
Following the December 6 parliamentary elections, which gave the opposition alliance 112 seats and the ruling party 55, the governing Chavista party alleged a series of irregularities in the elections, including vote buying and identity theft.
However, it is still unclear why the appeals were accepted as the sentencing paper specifying the exact reasons has not been released.
The complaints by the ruling Chavists after the elections are similar to those made by the opposition in previous elections -- though none of the opposition lawsuits were ever accepted, especially during the 2013 presidential elections when current President Nicolas Maduro was elected with a questionable 200,000 vote difference in a 19 million voter registry.
The Supreme Court -- dominated by judges appointed by and loyal to the Chavista government -- said it had received requests for six protective mechanisms to suspend the elections results of six legislative districts in three states of the country.
Days before, the outgoing National Assembly had just fortified the government dominance of the TSJ by appointing 13 new Supreme Court justices who were immediately sworn in and urged to follow the course of "radical socialism" by the Chief Justice.
The Supreme Court has never ruled against the government since 2003, after which then-President Hugo Chavez increased the court size and packed the court with more loyalist judges.
MUD Executive Secretary Jesus Torrealba called the move "continuation of the December 22 judicial coup," when the coalition alleged the ruling party had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the proclamation of 22 elected opposition representatives.
The executive secretary urged supporters to accompany their elected candidates to the National Assembly on January 5, in response to a decision by Chavista supporters to turn up in a show of support, setting the stage for a possible ugly confrontation.