Leader's from Venezuela’s opposition appeared to call for a coup against President Nicolas Maduro, after the country's Supreme Court ruled that the presidential recall referendum would be temporarily suspended due to fraud committed in the first phase of the process.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Friday that President Maduro is “in disobedience of the constitution” and called on both the National Assembly and Armed Forces to “make a decision” and have people “respect the constitution.”
The former Venezuelan presidential candidate also said Maduro had vacated his position as president, prompting fears that a coup might be looming.
“Maduro did not only leave the country, he left his position,” Capriles said during Friday's press conference.
“Maduro declared himself in disobedience, he does not respect the Constitution, and today he left the country, and will leave everything.”
Maduro left Venezuela for various OPEC and non-OPEC countries Thursday to help establish a stable price for oil, which has negatively affected the South American country's economy.
Capriles, head of Justice First and one of the leaders of the opposition MUD coalition, also called on the nation’s armed forces to intervene.
“Hopefully the armed forces will have people respect the constitution,” he said.
The MUD leader also demanded the government repeal the decision to suspend the signature collection process for the recall referendum and called on opposition members to “take the streets of Venezuela.” Toward the end of his speech, Capriles denied he wanted a coup to oust Maduro and said he does not want to incite violence.
“We don’t want a coup in the country,” said Capriles, “A coup has (already) happened to the people and we have to restore constitutional order.“
Henry Ramos Allup, the president of the National Assembly, also spoke during the press conference and said the National Assembly he leads supports all the decisions and the message promoted by Capriles.
Ramos Allup also called on the Venezuelan Armed Forces “to analyze the abuses to the constitution” allegedly carried out by the government. He also said they were offering a constitutional way out for Maduro through the recall referendum in order to prevent “a violent way out” in the future.
The legislator said a delegation from the assembly will travel to the Organization of American States, or OAS, to demand the OAS apply the so-called Democratic Charter against his country, something the opposition has been requesting for months.
“Venezuelans have always been stronger than its leaders,” he said, before he cast doubt on Maduro's nationality, suggesting he may actually be Colombian—a common allegation that has no basis.
The National Electoral Council, or CNE, said the decision to postpone the recall referendum process came after the MUD committed the criminal offense of presenting more than 600,000, about 30 percent, of signatures deemed irregular. Among the invalid signatures were almost 11,000 from deceased Venezuelans.
The Supreme Court also declared invalid all acts of the National Assembly after it swore in three legislators who had previously been suspended over irregularities when they were elected.