Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Vzla: Hell, no! I won't go!

Caracas, Venezuela, Jun. 23 (UPI) -- The vice president of Venezuela's Supreme Court refused to step down following lawmakers' decision to remove him, local news sources report.

Franklin Arrieche told a news conference the law cited to remove him by Venezuela's National Assembly was a violation of democratic rights, El Nacional reported Wednesday.

"For the time being, vile selfishness triumphed," said Arrieche. "But soon law will respect virtue and honor again."

Last week a new law was passed allowing the National Assembly to remove a justice by a majority vote. Previously a two-thirds majority was needed.

Arrieche has been a critic of President Hugo Chavez, who faces a recall referendum in August.

In May, Chavez signed a law that expanded the Supreme Court from 20 justices to 32.

With the advantage pro-government lawmakers have in the Congress, the president will likely add justices that could help his cause in the August referendum in the event the vote is too close to call and the court must decide the outcome.

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