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Venezuelas opposition denounced a “parliamentary coup” on Sunday after its leader Juan Guaido was prevented from entering the National Assembly by police and a rival tried to take his role as speaker.
Images of Luis Parra declaring himself head of the chamber by megaphone were shown on state television channel VTV, as Guaido and fellow opposition lawmakers were blocked from entering the assembly.
Guaido had been expected to be re-elected parliament speaker in a vote on Sunday but only regime lawmakers and opposition deputies critical of Guaido were allowed to enter the building.
“ALERT! Parliamentary coup. Without votes, nor a quorum PSUV (socialist party) deputies are trying to swear in a false leadership,” said the National Assembly on its Twitter account.
It published a video appearing to show Guaido, wearing a blue suit, attempting to climb over the fence around the premises to gain entry to its compound, only to be pushed back by police with riot shields.
Guaido had earlier hit out at President Nicolas Maduros regime for preventing numerous deputies and journalists from entering the assembly—the only government branch in opposition hands—as police carried out a security operation.
“Today, those who help to prevent the legitimate installation of the Venezuelan parliament are converting themselves into accomplices of the dictatorship and of those oppressing the Venezuelan people,” Guaido wrote on Twitter.
Guaido has led the National Assembly for the last year.
“This is unprecedented!” Guaido told a member of the security forces with whom he had a heated exchange. “What operation? Who ordered it?”
The national press workers union launched a “worldwide alert in the face of the Nicolas Maduro regime initiative to block the press” from reaching parliament.
Colombias foreign office described Sundays vote as “fraudulent, without transparency or guarantees” and said it wouldnt recognize it.
US senator for Florida Marco Rubio called it a “sham,” while US State Department official Michael Kozak described it as “a farce.”
The desperate actions of the former Maduro regime, illegally forcibly preventing Juan Guaido and the majority of @AsambleaVE deputies from entering the building, make this mornings “vote,” which lacks quorum and does not meet minimum constitutional standards, a farce.
— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) January 5, 2020
You are the past
Ahead of Parras self-proclamation, opposition deputy Jose Brito, an opponent of Guaidos, told journalists that Parra would stand against the current speaker.
“You could have been the future — now you are and will be the past,” Brito told journalists, addressing Guaido.
Both Parra and Brito fell out with Guaido last year after being accused of corruption related to the over-pricing of imported food.
In comments posted on the National Assembly Twitter account, Guaido said those deputies prevented from entering would be heading to the premises of the El Nacional newspaper to discuss their “next steps.”
He also hit out at “traitors” and said several lawmakers were “brutally beaten” by police.
Parra told reporters 140 lawmakers were present in the session and that his candidacy was approved with 81 votes.
A regime deputy, Pedro Carreno, told AFP that the vote took place with 150 deputies present and that Parra received the simple majority of 84 needed to win.
The National Assembly has 167 seats, 112 of which are in opposition hands, but as well as those prevented from entering, around 30 others are either in exile or holed up in diplomatic missions following a crack down by the regime against Maduro opRead More – Source