efe-epaCaracas

A police operation to find an alleged explosive device prevented the holding of the opposition-controlled Venezuelan National Assembly session Tuesday, during which it intended to denounce the persecution of several of its members accused of encouraging the military uprising two weeks ago.

More than a 100 police officers and the Bolivarian National Guard stood the streets adjacent to the Federal Legislative Palace, which houses the Assembly, after a report of an alleged explosive device inside the facility circulated online.

"SEBIN's (Bolivarian Intelligence Service) anti-explosive officers are entering the Federal Legislative, it seems an alleged explosive device is placed inside," the Assembly said on Twitter.

The event seemed to pose a danger to the legislators, whose leader Juan Guaido - recognized by more than 50 international governments as the interim president of Venezuela – denounced as an attempt by the administration of President Nicholas Maduro to close down parliament.

Guaido said the Assembly will be in session Wednesday, even on the streets if necessary.

"We are going to hold the session. We will insist on reaching the Federal Legislative and if we have to hold the session (...) in the street, we will do it. But the Federal Legislative belongs to the Assembly, the people of Venezuela and we will not give up," he said at a press conference in Caracas.

According to Guaido, Maduro made the decision because the dictatorial regime has no popular backing or international support and while the world debates issues such as Syria's civil war and North Korean denuclearization, Venezuela, is "an example of the complexity and severity of issues" that the country suffers.

Guaido reiterated that the Maduro government may have brute force but that no longer convinces anyone.

He added that the Maduro administration was trying to shut down parliament, the only legitimate institution recognized by the international community.

"Even countries like Greece and Italy, who are calling for a way out of the crisis, recognize only the National (Assembly) as the legitimate institution in Venezuela," said Guaido.

Finally, in a message to the military he said that "the path of dictatorship" is that of "persecution, of disaster.”

The pro-Maduro 2017 Constituent National Assembly (ANC), comprising more than 500 legislators and which is not recognized by much of the international community, held its session Tuesday to lift parliamentary immunity off another five legislators in relation to the military uprising of Apr. 30.

The ANC's decision affected Freddy Superlano, Sergio Vergara and Juan Andres Mejia after a petition was made to the Supreme Court of Justice on May 8.

Another two legislators affected are Carlos Paparoni and Miguel Pizarro, whose immunity the Supreme Court asked to review in order to continue a legal process initiated by the prosecution, according to ANC President Diosdado Cabello.

Last week the ANC also stripped seven opposition MPs of their judicial powers.

By lifting the immunity of 14 legislators allegedly linked to the failed uprising, the ANC now has been attributed with exclusive powers of parliament.

Political tension has been running high in Venezuela since January when Maduro was sworn in for a new six-year term that the opposition and majority of the international community do not recognize. In response, Guaido proclaimed an interim government which has the backing of more than 50 countries.

rgc/sp/tw