Caracas (CNN)The fate of the only opposition-controlled political institution in Venezuela was left hanging on Sunday, as pro-government lawmakers claimed to swear in a new president of the National Assembly.
Guaido blocked from Venezuela's National Assembly vote
Shouts and fistfights erupted inside and outside the legislative palace, as security forces in riot gear prevented several opposition congressmen from entering the legislative palace, including opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the incumbent national assembly president.
Guaidó, who last year declared illegitimate the rule of Nicolás Maduro and swore himself in as the country's chief executive, had been expected to be re-elected as chief of the legislature. Instead, inside the palace, a little-known congressman named Luis Parra, was named to the role by a skeleton assembly of pro-government lawmakers. The decision came amid chaos inside the chamber, and without the session being formally declared open.
Constitutional experts and members of the Venezuelan opposition supporting Guaidó have said Parra's appointment is a sham. They cite National Assembly rules which require a quorum for the body to open for business. In the absence of a minimum number of lawmakers -- many of whom were blocked from entering the building -- procedure requires the National Assembly to form a "Preparatory Commission" to find ways to reactivate a voting session.
Parra was a member of the pro-Guaido opposition party Primero Justicia (Justice First) until December 2019, when a corruption scandal saw him ejected from the party.