Venezuela's Defense Minister Asked Maduro to Resign

Venezuela President Maduro sworn in for second term

Venezuela President Maduro sworn in for second term

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will begin his second mandate on Thursday plagued by accusations of illegitimacy and increasing worldwide isolation in a country crippled by an economic crisis.

Supreme Court Chief Maikel Moreno dedicated almost 20 minutes to explaining why Maduro was not being sworn in by Congress, which the ruling Socialist Party has systematically ignored since the opposition took control of the body in 2016.

Maduro was re-elected last May in voting boycotted by the majority of the opposition and dismissed as fraudulent by the United States, European Union and Organization of American States (OAS).

Maduro was sworn in by the nation's supreme court, The Associated Press reports, cheered on by officials and flag-waving children.

"The US will not recognise the Maduro dictatorship's illegitimate inauguration", national security advisor John Bolton tweeted. In his inaugural address, Maduro said that his victory marked "step of peace for our country".

The Venezuelan leader also said the political right in Latin America has been "contaminated", citing the rise to power of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, whom he termed a "fascist".

Maduro was Venezuela's vice-president under Chavez, until Chavez's death in 2013.

Representatives from more than 90 countries, including Bolivian President Eva Morales and Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel, attended the ceremony.

Shortly after Maduro took his oath of office, Paraguay's president said the country was breaking off diplomatic relations with Venezuela and refusing to recognize Maduro's re-election.

"This banner does not belong to me, this banner belongs to the rebellious and sovereign people of Venezuela", said the Venezuelan President.

Earlier this week, Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa fled to the U.S. in protest over President Nicolás Maduro winning a second term, arguing that the election "was not free and fair". He accuses foreign governments including Latin American nations of seeking to overthrow him.

The US said it is time for Venezuela to begin a transitional process that can restore the constitutional, democratic order by holding free and fair elections that respect the will of the Venezuelan people.

The ceremony contrasted with the harsh realities that face the former bus driver turned socialist leader, including hyperinflation, severe food and medicine shortages and an exodus of millions of citizens seeking to escape the hardship.

Many prominent opposition figures are either in jail or exile and various factions continue to squabble over power while the National Assembly, the one institution they control, has been left impotent after Maduro created the rival Constituent Assembly and filled the Supreme Court with loyalists who annul every decision made by parliament. It predicts that number will reach 5.3 million by the end of this year.

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