Rio de Janeiro – Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Thursday effectively stripped authority from the opposition-dominated National Assembly and took over legislative power.
The court, in a ruling declared that the National Assembly in contempt of court and its decisions invalid.
Lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said the ruling amounted to dictatorship, while other parliamentarians spoke of a coup against the National Assembly.
An emergency session was scheduled.
Nicolas Maduro, the country’s socialist president, has been largely ruling using emergency decrees for more than a year.
The opposition has called for a referendum on removing Maduro from office, although this has been blocked by the courts so far.
Venezuela, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, is suffering a dramatic supply crisis.
NAN reports that there is an ongoing conflict between socialist President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition which is seeking to end his presidency.
Ever since the main opposition coalition gained its majority in the assembly following elections in December 2015, the Supreme Court has overturned every law passed by the assembly.
The coalition parties have accused the court of being made up of Maduro loyalists, rather than neutral judges.
The latest ruling came the same week that the court said it would begin a process of control that would define the limits of immunity for Assembly deputies.
The Constitutional Chamber declared the nullity of the act approved by the National Assembly on March 21,, known as the Agreement on the Reactivation of the Enforcement Process Inter-American Conference of the Organisation of American States (OAS)”
The opposition had been using its majority in the assembly to push for the release of a number of prisoners, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been in jail for three years, and to limit the influence of Maduro’s administration.
Maduro accused opposition lawmakers of treason for asking the OAS to consider suspending Venezuela for violating democratic norms. In Venezuela, treason can be punished with a 30-year prison term.