Young lawmaker Juan Guaido named new head of Venezuelan legislature

EFE

The Venezuelan National Assembly, with its strong opposition majority, unanimously designated Saturday the young lawmaker Juan Guaido of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party as its new president for the year of sessions now beginning.

The anti-Chavista faction had already let it be known that Guaido, an engineer age 35, would be sworn in as leader of the legislature in fulfillment of the opposition's governability accord, according to which the leadership this year goes to the head of the VP, a party founded by imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Lawmaker Edgar Zambrano of the Accion Democratica (AD) party and Stalin Gonzalez of Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) were likewise designated as first and second legislative vice presidents respectively, after getting a majority of the vote.

The opposition faction 16 de Julio said it would support Guaido's election but not that of either Zambrano or Gonzalez because, it said, it does not agree with their parties' policies, though they all strongly oppose the Nicolas Maduro government.

This split in the anti-Chavista faction comes as Maduro plans to be sworn in as re-elected president on Jan. 10 after winning the election called a fraud by many and not recognized by numerous governments.

The leadership of the National Assembly is rounded out with lawmaker Edinson Ferrer as secretary and Jose Luis Cartaya repeating as deputy secretary.

A suspected explosive device was found in the legislature and removed without any damage having occurred, hours before the designation of Guaido and the rest of the new legislative leadership, several opposition lawmakers reported.

Opposition member Alfonso Marquina said on Twitter that the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) has taken charge of the situation.

However, lawmaker Delsa Solorzano noted that guarding the legislature "is in the hands of representatives of the dictatorship," an allusion to the Nicolas Maduro government, which means "they are the only ones who could plant an explosive."

Attending Saturday's session were mayors and opposition city councilors, labor union representatives, political leaders, 100 lawmakers and 20 members of the diplomatic corps.

After the opposition occupied the majority of seats, the Supreme Court declared the National Assembly in contempt since its actions are considered null and void, and Maduro has not answered to the lawmakers since 2016.

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