Skip to comments.Ruling Party No-Show Blocks Effort to Remove Chavez
Posted on 07/06/2003 1:13:23 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
CARACAS, Venezuela - A no-show by the ruling party forced the suspension of a congressional session that was supposed to pave the way for a possible referendum on Hugo Chavez's presidency.
Under a recent pact brokered by the Organization of American States, Venezuela's opposition may seek a referendum later this year on Chavez's mandate, which runs to 2007. The deal was part of efforts to end chronic unrest destabilizing this key oil supplier to the United States.
The accord urged the National Assembly to quickly appoint the elections council to organize the vote and committed the government to provide funding.
But on Thursday, Chavez supporters_ who control just more than half of the National Assembly's 165 seats - didn't attend a congressional session to discuss the council appointments. Acting assembly president Ricardo Gutierrez said no debate can be held until 29 lawmakers from both sides return from a trip to the United States.
Cesar Perez, a member of the Copei Social Christian opposition party, accused the ruling party of trying to delay the process.
Opposition lawmakers long predicted Chavez's downfall at the ballot box next month, or halfway into Chavez's six-year term. Yet several opposition parties can't agree on the first step - choosing an elections council - and time is running out for a vote in 2003.
"Without continued pressure from the international community and greater unity and strategy within the opposition, it isn't going to happen (this year)," said Michael Shifter, an analyst with the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Opponents accuse Chavez, a former paratrooper who was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2000, of ruining Venezuela's economy, fomenting political violence and ignoring widespread corruption.
Chavez - who survived a brief 2002 coup and a general strike this year - says a disenfranchised elite is committed to toppling him and his revolution for Venezuela's majority poor.
Did they hide out at a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma, also?