CARACAS – Venezuela’s Supreme Court announced on Saturday that it had reversed a ruling earlier this week that stripped the unicameral national legislature of its remaining powers.
This latest move comes after leftist President Nicolas Maduro had called on the Supreme Court to reconsider the decision, which was widely criticized internationally and blasted by the opposition as a coup.
The high court said in a statement that it was removing some parts of two rulings issued late Wednesday, saying the action effectively reversed its earlier decision to take over the powers of the National Assembly.
Maduro called late Friday on the Supreme Court to review rulings 155 and 156 in the interest of maintaining institutional stability and the separation of powers.
He made the remarks after a meeting of the National Defense Council that he leads.
The council met after Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a member of Maduro’s administration, strongly criticized the Supreme Court’s rulings and said the stripping away of the national legislature’s powers amounted to a rupture of the constitutional order.
The Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that the National Assembly’s move early last year to ignore an earlier ruling by the tribunal and seat three lawmakers accused of electoral fraud – and thereby give the opposition a supermajority – put it in contempt of court.
The opposition blasted this week’s decision by the Supreme Court, which had already taken away the legislature’s budgetary authority in the wake of the opposition’s landslide victory in the December 2015 parliamentary elections.
Those elections marked a major turning point in Venezuelan politics, which has been dominated for nearly 20 years by the leftist party of Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.
Maduro fired back late Friday at critics such as Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro, who call him a dictator, saying the only rupture of the constitutional order in recent history was the abortive 2002 coup against Chavez.
The situation in Venezuela, an oil-rich country racked not only by a political crisis but also a deep recession and sky-high inflation, is to be analyzed on Saturday by the countries of Mercosur, a South American trade bloc, and on Monday by the OAS in an extraordinary meeting of its Permanent Council.