Venezuela's opposition-led legislature has passed a resolution aimed at triggering early elections. The latest move to oust President Maduro is likely to be blocked by the Supreme Court.
Venezuela's opposition-led legislature on Monday passed a resolution declaring President Nicolas Maduro had "abandoned his post" by allowing the country's economic crisis to spiral out of control.
Under the constitution, the legislature can force elections within 30 days by declaring the president has "abandoned his post."
The legislature has over the past year maneuvered to remove the Socialist president, who the opposition blames for the country's economic meltdown and political paralysis.
The Supreme Court, which along with the electoral commission and military are close to Maduro, has consistently quashed the legislature's efforts to trigger early elections. Last year, the top court ruled that the legislature could not remove the president. Maduro has called efforts to unseat him unconstitutional.
The opposition says the oil-rich country's economic downturn is too severe to wait until Maduro's term ends in 2019.
"The most important thing is that [this measure] demands an electoral solution to Venezuela's crisis, so that the people can express themselves through the vote," Congress President Julio Borges said after the vote.
The Socialists rebuffed the opposition's latest effort.
"President Maduro has not resigned and he will not resign," Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello said at a news conference before the vote. "He has not abandoned his post, and we have not recognized nor will we recognize a disobedient legislature."
Maduro has so far successfully fended off opposition-led calls for a recall referendum, legislative attacks and street protests.
Venezuelans suffer from triple-digit inflation, shortages of basic foods and goods, and long lines for rationed supplies. The economic crisis has threatened social stability and led to political deadlock.
Vatican-backed talks between Maduro and the opposition broke down last month.
cw/msh (AFP, Reuters)