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Venezuela congress leader challenges Maduro’s right to presidency | News

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The head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament challenged President Nicolas Maduro on Friday, saying he is ready to assume country’s presidency himself until free and fair elections can be held.

Juan Gerardo Guaido Marquez made the announcement at an anti-government rally in the capital, Caracas on Friday, a day after Maduro was sworn in for a second term, deemed by many as “illegitimate”. 

Guaido, who leads the internationally-recognised National Assembly, said there was no doubt that Maduro was a “usurper” and called for the support of the public, armed forces and international community in restoring constitutional order to Venezuela

“I assume the duty imposed by the Constitution and Article 333, which obliges all Venezuelans, vested with authority or not, to fight for the restitution of constitutional order,” the National Assembly quoted Guaido as saying in a series of posts on Twitter.

“The Constitution gives me the legitimacy to exercise the charge of the presidency of the Republic to call elections, but I need the support of the citizens to make it happen,” he said before calling for massive protests on January 23.

The date is significant for Venezuelans as it marks the anniversary of the end of the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship, which ruled the country from 1948-1959. 

The call from the opposition comes a day after Maduro began his new six-year term following a controversial win in a 2018 election that was largely boycotted by the opposition.

Maduro has yet to respond publicly to the National Assembly’s announcement. In a recent post on Twitter, he celebrated his inauguration, saying Venezuela was writing a new page in its history and “ready for a new beginning, for the road to democracy and national peace”.

Rising discontent

Friday’s move is the latest in a series of attempts by the National Assembly to dislodge Maduro by legal means, which have so far been unsuccessful.

Under Maduro, the parliament has been stripped of its powers and effectively replaced by the Constituent Assembly, which Maduro has stacked with supporters.

Maduro’s administration does not recognise the National Assembly and vice versa.

“What is happening now is the articulation of competing political forces within the country,” Venezuelan journalist Nayrobis Rodriguez told Al Jazeera.

“The National Assembly’s action will be quick since it is also supported by unions, businesses and social groups […] but it does not have military support and this weakens any attempt to assume the presidency,” she said.

Venezuela’s armed forces renewed their pledge of loyalty to Maduro at a parade following the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.





A recent survey found 72 percent of Venezuelans wanted Maduro to resign [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Public sentiment towards the ruling administration continues to sour as the country’s prolonged economic crisis, which has seen soaring hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine, shows no signs of slowing. 

A recent survey by the country’s most reliable pollster, Datanalisis, found that nearly 72 percent of people wanted Maduro to resign, rather than begin his second term. 

“Popular discontent can be decisive in defining the situation in the country and there is a high probability that citizens will join the protests,” Rodriguez said. “But it is also a population decimated by the diaspora and the fear of the harsh repression exercised by the government against the demonstrators”.

International response

Guaido’s comments have been welcomed by the Organization of American States (OAS), who declared Maduro’s government illegitimate in a special session on Thursday.

“He [Guaido] has our support, that of the international community and the people of Venezuela,” Secretary-General Luis Almagro said in a statement on Twitter.

The United States, European Union and several Latin American  countries have also refused to recognise Maduro’s government. Peru and Paraguay withdrew their diplomats from Venezuela shortly after the inauguration. 

However, amid the increasing international pressure, Maduro has been courting other allies.

“Russia, China, and Turkey all play crucial roles in propping up the Maduro regime economically. All have investing significantly in the country – Russia recently pledged $5bn to increase Venezuelan oil production, and Turkey has become a major importer of Venezuelan gold,” Max Klaver, senior analyst at Foreign Brief, a geopolitical risk analysis website, told Al Jazeera.

“As long as these three countries continue to back Maduro, there is little the international community  can do to unsettle him without significantly hurting Venezuelan citizens in the process,” Klaver said.





Maduro has been strengthening ties with China, Russia and others [File: Miraflores Palace Handout via Reuters]

Venezuela’s position as a major oil-exporter also reduces the risk of international backlash taking a harsher form than verbal condemnations, despite threats by leaders including US President Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro that military intervention could be an option to remove Maduro. 

“At this point, the international community should look to help Venezuelans who are fleeing the country by providing asylum,” Klaver said.

“Likewise, as long as the military remains loyal to Maduro, which is does through established patronage networks, his ouster will be unlikely.

“Expanding sanctions on high level Venezuelan officials, especially those in the military and political elite to try and shake their loyalty to the regime, would also be feasible measures the international community could take to pressure Maduro without seriously harming Venezuelan citizens”. 

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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