BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) — Mercosur called on Venezuelan authorities to ensure separation of powers in the country during an emergency meeting devoted to the Venezuelan Supreme Court's decision to assume the functions of the country’s parliament, Mercosur said in a joint statement.
"It is necessary to take concrete measures together with the opposition and in accordance with constitution to ensure effective separation of powers and respect for human rights," the statement read out by Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said.
The decision on assuming parliament's powers was announced by the court on Wednesday, and triggered sharp criticism around the world. Such countries as Colombia, Chile and Mexico expressed their concern over the court's decision, while Peru recalled its ambassador from Venezuela. Early on Saturday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to return legislative powers to the National Assembly, and immunity to its lawmakers.
In October 2016, the parliament voted for initiating impeachment proceedings against the president, which were later dismissed by the Venezuelan government. On January 9, the parliament declared that Maduro abandoned his post as result of dereliction of duty, but the Supreme Court of Justice stated that the National Assembly did not have the constitutional powers to declare abandonment. Maduro classified the parliament’s actions as a coup attempt.
Mercosur, founded in 1991, is a sub-regional economic bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela and is aimed at promoting free trade and free movement of goods, people and currency. Venezuelan membership was suspended in 2016 due to its alleged failure to fulfill economic, human rights and immigration requirements and presidency in the bloc was handed over to Argentina.