Leader of Venezuela Congress says he is prepared to assume presidency

Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and lawmaker of the opposition party Popular Will (Voluntad Popular), speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela January 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 January 2019
0

Leader of Venezuela Congress says he is prepared to assume presidency

  • The country’s constitution says a presidential vacancy can be filled by the head of the legislature, and some opposition activists have called on Guaido to assume the presidency

CARACAS: The leader of Venezuela’s opposition-led congress said on Friday he was prepared to assume the country’s presidency on an interim basis and call elections, just one day after leftist President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a disputed second term.
Juan Guaido, a lawmaker from the hard-line Popular Will opposition party who was elected to head the National Assembly on Jan. 5, said he would only take office with support of the armed forces. He also called for protests on Jan. 23, the anniversary of the fall of a military dictatorship in 1958.
“It should be the people of Venezuela, the armed forces, and the international community that give us a clear mandate to assume” the presidency, Guaido said in a speech to supporters outside the United Nations (UN) program office in Caracas.
Maduro was re-elected last year in a vote that was widely dismissed as fraudulent, and countries around the world have called his continued leadership illegitimate. Ruling Socialist Party leaders have described the criticism as colonialist interference led by the United States.
The Supreme Court and an all-powerful legislature called the Constituent Assembly have stripped Congress of its powers, meaning it does not have the capacity to remove the president as would a legislature in many countries.
Guaido’s comments, however, caused some confusion.
Luis Almagro, head of regional diplomatic group the Organization of American States, tweeted that Guaido had assumed the interim presidency of Venezuela. Guaido did not respond to a message seeking clarification.
The country’s perennially fractured opposition has made numerous failed attempts over the past 20 years to remove the ruling socialists. Now, opposition leaders have disavowed Maduro’s second term as illegitimate, and have called for the National Assembly to declare the presidency vacant.
The country’s constitution says a presidential vacancy can be filled by the head of the legislature, and some opposition activists have called on Guaido to assume the presidency.
Maduro’s allies were quick to denounce Guaido. Prisons Minister Iris Varela appeared to threaten to jail him, although she has previously threatened other opposition members who remain free. “Guaido, I already got your cell ready, with your uniform,” Varela wrote on Twitter.
The opposition has promised to keep up the pressure. Some 2,000 people gathered outside the UN site listening to opposition lawmakers and civil society leaders denounce Maduro as a “usurper.”
” is the only legitimate power that we have,” said Servando Valecillos, a 67-year-old salesman and one of the protesters.
Maduro’s critics accuse him of creating a dictatorship and destroying the OPEC nation’s economy.
Venezuela is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history, with inflation headed toward 2 million percent. Some three million people have left the country amid chronic shortages of food and medicine.
Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” led by his political adversaries with the help of Washington.


Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

Updated 15 June 2019
0

Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

MOGADISHU: A car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament Saturday, killing eight people, emergency workers said, hours after militia executed nine civilians from a clan with suspected links to the extremist Al-Shabaab.
"We have confirmed eight people killed and 16 others wounded in the blast," the private Aamin Ambulance service said.
A second blast on a key road leading to the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu did not cause any casualties.
The Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attacks saying "they were targeting two checkpoints, one of them along the airport road and (the other) along the road that leads to house of legislators."
Abdulahi Mire, who witnessed the explosion near the parliament building said; "I saw four dead bodies and four others wounded in the blast."
Police sealed off the road and ambulances rushed to the scene, he added.
Local shopkeeper Naimo Ali said the blast was "huge" and destroyed a part of her shop.
"I saw several people strewn in the road and some of them were motionless," she added.
According to security sources the second explosives-laden car a Toyota Noah, was spotted by security forces at a checkpoint. They opened fire and killed a man in the car, which then exploded.
No one was injured in the blast.