Venezuela's Guaido stripped of immunity

Venezuela's Guaido stripped of immunity

CARACAS- Agence France-Presse
Venezuelas Guaido stripped of immunity

Venezuelan lawmakers loyal to President Nicolas Maduro stripped opposition leader Juan Guaido's immunity on April 2 and authorized the high court to criminally prosecute him for proclaiming himself the crisis-hit country's ruler.

Guaido- whose claim is recognized by over 50 countries- had earlier expressed fears of being abducted by government agents following a request by the Supreme Court to the Constituent Assembly to lift his parliamentary immunity.

Critics of the controversial two-year-old body say it was created to rubber-stamp Maduro's decisions and sideline the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly's president, Diosdado Cabello, announced pro-Maduro lawmakers had unanimously authorized the Supreme Court to prosecute Guaido, leaving him also liable to be charged for breaching a January 29 government ban on leaving the country.

The court had been investigating Guaido for usurping Maduro's powers by declaring himself interim president on Jan. 23.

"The people are determined and nothing is going to stop us," said a defiant Guaido in response.

Parallel to the political battle, the country has been hit by a series of devastating blackouts that have left millions without water.

Maduro - whose government has blamed "terrorists" for alleged attacks that have damaged the country's main hydroelectric power plant- announced that he was appointing Igor Gavidia Leon to replace retired general Luis Motta Dominguez as energy minister.