Venezuelan lawmakers loyal to President Nicolás Maduro stripped opposition leader Juan Guaidó of immunity Tuesday – and authorised the high court to criminally prosecute him for proclaiming himself the crisis-hit country's ruler.
Guaidó – whose claim is recognised by over 50 countries, including Argentina – 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 authorised the Supreme Court to prosecute Guaido, leaving him also liable to be charged for breaching a January 29 government ban on leaving the country.
Parallel to the political battle, the country has been hit by a series of devastating blackouts that have left millions without water, prompting the government to replace the country's energy minister and institute power rationing in a bid to address the outages.
Three major blackouts hit Venezuela in March, worsening already dire living and economic conditions in the country, and prompting authorities to take steps aimed at curbing the outages
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 León to replace retired general Luis Motta Domínguez as energy minister.