CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition parliament voted on Friday to sack interim President Juan Guaido, dissolve his government and appoint a commission to manage the country’s foreign assets, as lawmakers seek to present a united front ahead of elections due in 2024.
Guaido has been the public face of violent opposition in Venezuela since 2019, when he invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, winning support from the United States and other governments that dismissed President Nicolás Maduro’s 2018 re-election as fraudulent.
But Maduro has remained in command of nearly all of Venezuela’s institutions, including its security forces, and Guaido’s interim government, which controls some foreign assets and runs many embassies, has seen its support dwindle.
Three of the four main opposition groups – Justice First, Democratic Action and A New Era – supported a bill to oust Guaidó and create a five-member commission to manage foreign assets, primarily US refiner Citgo, a subsidiary of the state-owned oil company. company. PDVSA.
Supporters say the opposition’s control of foreign assets is not in danger and a solution is needed for unity before the elections.
“Asset protection tools are already in place in the US, UK and Portugal,” said First Justice MP Juan Miguel Matheos.
The article on the abolition of the interim government and the article on the formation of the assets committee were approved, by 72 votes in favor, 29 against, and 8 abstentions.
Guaido, whose Popular Volunteers party did not support these efforts, urged lawmakers to replace him rather than disband the interim government.
“To cancel this is to jump off a cliff,” Guaido told parliament after the vote. It destroys what could have been preserved. »
Opposition parties hope Washington will extend the license that shields Citgo from possible seizure by creditors when the license expires in January.
Venezuela owes more than $60 billion to its creditors.
A spokesman for the US National Security Council said on Friday that the United States will continue to support the opposition, the assembly and the interim government “in whatever form it takes”.
Additional reporting by Mila Armas and Vivian Sequeira in Caracas, with additional reporting by Gary McWilliams. Written by Kaylee Madre and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Grant McCall
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