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Venezuelan ruling party, allies studying measure to dissolve opposition-led Congress

  • El presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro, al centro, habla con Diosdado Cabello, presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, izquierda, durante una ceremonia para conmemorar el 185to aniversario de la muerte del héroe independentista Simón Bolivar en Caracas, Venezuela, el jueves 17 de diciembre de 2015. La mujer a la derecha es la primera dama Cilia Flores. (Foto AP/Fernando Llano)

    El presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro, al centro, habla con Diosdado Cabello, presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, izquierda, durante una ceremonia para conmemorar el 185to aniversario de la muerte del héroe independentista Simón Bolivar en Caracas, Venezuela, el jueves 17 de diciembre de 2015. La mujer a la derecha es la primera dama Cilia Flores. (Foto AP/Fernando Llano)

  • National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup on Thursday, March 3, 2016.

    National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup on Thursday, March 3, 2016.  (ap)

The 12 political parties that make up the pro-government coalition Polo Patriótico (Patriotic Pole) in Venezuela were holding meetings on Wednesday to discuss the possible dissolution of the opposition-led National Assembly.

The proposal was put forward the day before by members of the coalition, which is led by the ruling Venezuela’s United Socialist Party (PSUV for its name in Spanish) founded by the late Hugo Chavez.

“If we decide to go ahead with this decision, we will go to the Supreme Court and ask them to rule about three issues that concern us,” said Jose Pinto, secretary general of Tupamaros, one of the Chavista parties of the coalition.

“One – he said –  the National Assembly usurped the presidency’s task of controlling foreign policy; two, Henry Ramos, the president of the Assembly, committed treason when he visited the OAS offices in Washington last week; and three, the referendum process led by the opposition has been full of illegalities,” he told Fox News Latino.

The PSUV hasn’t made any official statement since the proposal was first announced on Tuesday.

The Patriotic Pole coalition is calling for a rally in support of President Nicolas Maduro Saturday in Caracas. They will walk the presidential palace, from where Maduro is expected to address the crowd.

“It’s possible that a formal announcement about this issue is made during that event,” Pinto told FNL.

The dissolution of Congress for the reasons mentioned by Pinto is not mentioned anywhere in Venezuela’s Constitution, but the Supreme Court is the only body able to make interpretations of the law.

“They are the ones who will say if [the proposal] is constitutional and democratic,” Pinto said to FNL.

Currently 23 out of the 32 Supreme Court justices are openly Chavista, 13 of which were appointed hastily on the last working day of the previous Assembly.

This week the Supreme Court also received a formal request to rule about the legality of the president’s recall process started in April.

Ramos, the Assembly president, posted a tweet on Tuesday alerting of a meeting between PSUV representatives and Supreme Court justices.

“They are planning something,” he wrote.

For weeks, Ramos has been warning that the government wants to get rid of the National Assembly using the Supreme Court as a tool.

Some analysts, however, say that is unlikely to happen at this time given the severe image crisis Chavismo is facing abroad.

“If they do that, all their efforts to sell the possibility of a dialogue with the opposition will be wasted. This would put them in a tougher position internationally,” said Oswaldo Ramirez, a local political consultant, to Fox News Latino.

But this doesn’t mean that they won’t try anything like it in the future.

“Typically they use trial balloons to gauge the public’s reaction to certain things. They might be doing it through Patriotic Pole this time,” Ramirez added.

It was members of Podemos, one of the 12 parties from Patriotic Pole, who came out with the idea of dissolving the Assembly, while the rest supported a motion to start a debate on the issue instead.

Two parties, the Communist Party of Venezuela and Redes, didn’t attend the meeting. Fox News Latino reached out to them in search for comment but they declined.

Last week, Redes’ Secretary General Juan Barreto said in a radio interview that some members of the Chavismo coalition are studying the possibility of asking President Maduro to resign, which would suggest frictions within the Patriotic Pole.

But Pinto was quick to deny it.

“Redes has not expressed any of those positions officially,” he said. “That was a personal statement. They still are part of our coalition.”

Franz von Bergen is a freelancer reporter living in Caracas.

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