Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature makes new military offer


Caracas (AFP)

Members of the Venezuelan armed forces that abandon President Nicolas Maduro will keep their rank and be reinstated once a new government is in place, the opposition-controlled legislature said Tuesday.

The announcement marked the latest offer from the National Assembly, headed by opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, to try to convince more military personnel to switch sides.

Guaido, recognized by more than 50 countries as acting president, launched a challenge to socialist Maduro's authority in January.

But Maduro retains the backing of the powerful armed forces' high command and the opposition knows it cannot force him from power without military support.

A text approved by the National Assembly said it "guarantees that every military professional citizen who decides to restore constitutional order... will be reincorporated into the armed forces" once a new government assumes power.

The assembly said this would preserve the chain of command -- in a bid to assuage any fears the high command may have that they would lose their power and influence should Maduro fall.

Guaido had previously offered amnesty to any members of the armed forces that disavow Maduro.

While dozens of soldiers have abandoned their posts, as of yet none of the high command have pledged their allegiance to Guaido.

Guaido is attempting to remove Maduro from power and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.

The opposition dispute Maduro's re-election last May in polls widely dismissed as neither free nor fair.

Venezuela is suffering from an economic crisis following more than four years of recession marked by hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines.