venezuela congress protests assembly_00001023.jpg
Protesters storm Venezuela's assembly
01:20 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The first time a session of the National Assembly was interrupted by a violent mob was in 1848

Maduro holds firm that efforts to remove him from office won't succeed

Opponents of Maduro believe he has violated democracy in his own country

CNN  — 

Venezuelan lawmakers have announced they plan to push for impeachment proceedings against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

In a special session on Sunday, the Venezuelan National Assembly, which is made up mostly of opposition parliamentarians, approved a measure that declared “there has been a breakdown of constitutional order and a continued state of coup led from the highest level of government by President Nicolas Maduro.”

Tensions between the government and the opposition are sky high after a drive to hold a recall referendum on Maduro has been halted.

This impeachment drive prompted a group of government supporters to storm the Venezuelan National Assembly building on Sunday afternoon, opposition legislators told CNN.

It is unlikely that any measures passed by the National Assembly will get traction in the courts, mostly made up of Maduro supporters.

But the protesters broke into the assembly meeting hall, stole cell phones from opposition lawmakers, threw punches and vandalized the building. Security guards tried to stop them from pushing their way to the main floor, but couldn’t stop the mob, opposition legislators said.

Pro-government lawmakers were finally able to persuade the protesters to stop the attack and leave the building.

This is the second time since 1848 a session of the National Assembly was interrupted by a violent mob.

Finding a way to oust Maduro

Sunday’s special session comes after Venezuela’s National Electoral Council halted a drive to hold a recall referendum on Maduro. Federal courts ruled Thursday that multiple cases of voter identity fraud occurred over the summer as the first round of signatures was being gathered to trigger the referendum. The second round to collect signatures was due to start on Wednesday.

The opposition is trying to find a way to oust Maduro as Venezuela continues to battle an economic crisis and massive shortages of food and medicine. Maduro holds firm that efforts to remove him from office won’t succeed, while his opponents say he has violated democracy. Opposition lawmakers have called for massive protests across the country, calling them “unlike any other march” ever held.

OAS members call for dialogue

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is currently in a tour of Middle Eastern oil-rich countries that aims to stabilize the price of oil. In a video statement recorded from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he said his government would continue working and continue to win.

Speaking to journalists after Sunday’s session Hector Rodriguez, the leader of Maduro’s party in the National Assembly said the opposition lawmakers wouldn’t prevail.

“They have made us waste time today in an attempt to stage a coup like the one in Brazil, like the one in Paraguay, like the one in Honduras. In Venezuela, we do not have the conditions for them to stage a coup.”

Twelve members of the Organization of American States, including the United States, signed a letter on Friday calling for a dialogue to preserve peace in Venezuela.

CNN’s Jennifer Deaton contributed to this report.