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  • Venezuela

    Venezuela's Supreme Court | Photo: La Radio del Sur

The move is intended to block the call for a National Constituent Assembly, which aims to ease political tensions in the country.

Venezuela Supreme Court ruled that the naming of 33 judges to form a “parallel Supreme Court” by the opposition-controlled National Assembly is null and is in direct violation of the Constitution. 

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"They committed crimes of treason to the country," Supreme Court judge Juan Jose Mendoza said on Friday, reiterating that it was unconstitutional and could result in criminal charges.

Opposition supporters gathered in a public plaza in the east of Caracas, where members of the legislative branch conducted a public parliamentary session to appoint the 13 principal judges and 20 substitutes. 

"We will maintain the pressure, we will appoint the judges and on Saturday return to the streets," opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara said before the session began.

The naming of the judges is the latest in a series of moves by the opposition to create "parallel structures" to challenge the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. On Wednesday they announced their program for a "government of national unity."

On Thursday night, the Supreme Court declared any appointment of new judges as void, since the National Assembly continues to be in contempt for swearing in lawmakers whose elections were suspended for voting irregularities on Jan. 5, 2016.

Given that the National Assembly has been operating with unverified people acting as legislators, the court said that all of its actions are illegal.

The action, according to opposition leaders of the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable alliance, is an attempt to block the country's National Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for July 30.

Venezuelans will vote for 545 assembly members to reform the Magna Carta, in a constitutional and open process dubbed “Constituent for Peace” by supporters of President Nicolas Maduro.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces have begun operations to secure voting centers, as the country heads to the polls in nine days.

They will comply with the National Electoral Council schedule for the election and safeguard polling stations across the country, as violence has escalated and the opposition has called to boycott the vote.

The opposition has refused to participate in the National Constituent Assembly, despite previous calls for similar political projects. 

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