Guaido and rival both claim to be Venezuela's parliament speaker

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido is helped to climb a railing in an attempt to reach the National Assembly building in Caracas, on Sunday. -AFP
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido is helped to climb a railing in an attempt to reach the National Assembly building in Caracas, on Sunday. -AFP

CARACAS - Opposition leader Juan Guaido and a rival lawmaker, Luis Parra, both claimed to be Venezuela's parliament speaker on Sunday following two separate votes and accusations of a "parliamentary coup."

Guaido was re-elected speaker by opposition lawmakers in a session held at a newspaper office after police blocked him from entering the National Assembly legislature.

In his absence, corruption-tainted Parra proclaimed himself speaker after claiming to have been elected with 81 votes in the 167-member chamber.

Guaido, who a year ago declared himself acting president in a challenge to socialist leader Nicolas Maduro, received the votes of around 100 lawmakers, including several forced last year into exile or to take shelter in foreign diplomatic missions due to a regime crackdown.

Guaido vowed to "enforce" the constitution in his dual role as parliament speaker and "acting president."

But in a televised address, President Maduro gave his backing to Parra as the new speaker, adding that "Guaido was kicked out of the National Assembly by the votes of his own opposition."

Venezuela's opposition denounced Parra's move as a "parliamentary coup."

Guaido and around a dozen lawmakers had been prevented from entering the assembly by police claiming to be carrying out a security operation, but deputies from Maduro's party and opposition ones that have rejected Guaido were allowed in.

Guaido, 36, attempted to climb over the railing around the National Assembly premises to gain entry, only to be pushed back by police with riot shields.

Images of Parra declaring himself head of the chamber by megaphone were shown on state television channel VTV.

After spending four hours outside parliament, Guaido and allied lawmakers went to the offices of El Nacional newspaper where they held their own session. -AFP