by James Tweedie FOUR of five Venezuelan opposition state governors were sworn in on Monday before the constituent assembly despite their initial boycott.
The partial climbdown from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s boycott of last week’s swearing-in ceremony came as its ally Washington said withdrawn embassy staff would return.
Tachira governor Laidy Gomez, Antonio Barreto from Anzoategui, Merida’s Ramon Guevara and Nueva Esparta’s Alfredo Diaz all took their vows in front of National Constituent Assembly speaker Delcy Rodriguez.
The four are all members of the Democratic Action (AD) party, which leads the more moderate of two factions in the multiparty Mud. Zulia governor-elect Juan Pablo Guanipa, from the Justice First (PJ) party that leads the hardline Mud faction, maintained the insistence on being sworn in before his state assembly — as is customary.
Ms Gomez tweeted that the “humiliation of a leader” can be a means of achieving freedom, while Mr Barreto wrote they were making “the biggest of sacrifices” to resolve the national crisis.
President Nicolas Maduro threatened on Friday to hold new elections in the five states if the Mud governors did not submit.
His United Socialist Party won 18 of 23 state governorships in the October 15 elections — a major vindication for the ruling party almost two years after its crushing defeat by the Mud in the December 2015 parliamentary election.
Mud Bolivar state candidate Andres Velasquez, of the Radical Cause party, petitioned the National Electoral Council in the capital Caracas on Monday for a recount in the election he lost by fewer than 1,500 votes.
He said the four AD governors deserved “full repudiation” for submitting to the assembly.
Meanwhile the US State Department announced the return of diplomats and their families, who were withdrawn from the embassy before the July 31 constituent assembly election that the Mud had boycotted.
That was on the pretext of security risks amid the Mud’s campaign of riots that left 124 dead, including six on election day.
The withdrawal of the diplomatic staff — just weeks before Donald Trump became the first recent US president to moot military intervention in Venezuela — was widely seen as an omen of war.
The opposition riots ended within a week of the July 31 vote.