Maduro Orders Court Takeover of Opposition Parties Ahead of Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro used the Supreme Court to take over two of the country’s most important opposition parties, laying the groundwork for congressional elections in December.

The high court suspended and replaced the boards of Democratic Action and Justice First parties in rulings Tuesday and Monday. Bernabe Gutierrez and Jose Brito, a lawmaker ensnared in a corruption scandal, were selected to head the parties.

Maduro Orders Court Takeover of Opposition Parties Ahead of Vote

“We have a golden opportunity to change the National Assembly,” Maduro said on state TV on Tuesday. “They destroyed the Assembly,” the opposition “used it to call for a military invasion and steal our assets abroad.”

The move follows Maduro’s total restructuring of the country’s Electoral Council last week, in which he bypassed the National Assembly to unilaterally appoint five new members loyal to him -- successfully tightening his grip on the Electoral Council, known as CNE. Bernanbe Gutierrez is brother of Jose Luis Gutierrez, one of the new CNE officials.

Venezuela’s opposition, lead by Juan Guaido, said they would not participate in a “false” elections and rejected the court’s ruling. Yet the vote is likely to spark fierce debate among the four main opposition parties, which are unlikely to take a unified position, Eurasia analysts wrote in a Monday note.

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