Venezuela opposition Assembly sworn in

Jan 06, 2016, 5:17 AM EST
Anti-government demonstrators clash with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas February 24, 2014.
Source: Venezuela Libre/flickr

A new National Assembly controlled by opposition parties has been sworn in in Venezuela. It follows the governing Socialist Party's heavy defeat in last month's election.

The BBC writes:

The result put an end to 16 years of government majorities in the single-chamber assembly. One government and three opposition members suspended because of alleged electoral irregularities were not allowed to take up their seats. But even without the three seats, it is believed that the opposition will have the critical two-thirds majority needed to challenge the government of President Nicolas Maduro, says the BBC's Daniel Pardo in Caracas. Fifty-four pro-government and 109 opposition assembly members were sworn in for a five-year term. Mr Maduro's supporters vowed to defend in parliament the left-wing programmes introduced by him and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. "We took a beating in the elections. That will force us to change and to do things in a better way," said newly elected pro-government assembly member Hector Rodriguez. "But we will be here to defend the country and the Bolivarian (Socialist) Revolution," he added.

Al Jazeera reports:

Police and National Guard troops were deployed in the area around the National Assembly to prevent violence between opposition sympathizers and Maduro supporters, who have in the past clashed amid political tensions. MUD leaders accuse the government of undermining the incoming assembly with last-minute appointments of Supreme Court justices and by changing a central bank law to eliminate congressional control over the bank's leadership. A portrait of late President Hugo Chávez that hung prominently in the main congressional chamber, a symbol of what critics call illegal politicization of public institutions, was removed. Television images showed smiling opposition deputies chatting in the company of reporters, who for years have been blocked from the floor of Congress by the Socialist Party leadership.