Scuffle in Venezuela's assembly over Maduro hearings

Lawmakers in Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly briefly scuffle during a debate on whether to try President Nicolas Maduro for violating democracy, then break into singing the national anthem.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly briefly scuffled on Tuesday (Oct 25) during a debate on whether to try President Nicolas Maduro for violating democracy.

The lawmakers quickly calmed the scene and then sang the national anthem.

The South American Opec nation's political standoff has worsened since last week's suspension of an opposition push to hold a referendum to try and recall Mr Maduro, 53.

With that avenue closed, the opposition coalition has raised the stakes, using its power base in congress to threaten legal action against Mr Hugo Chavez's unpopular successor.

Venezuela's socialist government dismissed the move to try Mr Maduro as meaningless.

Unlike in neighbouring Brazil, where Ms Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from the presidency earlier this year, a trial against Mr Maduro is unlikely to gain traction given the government and Supreme Court have declared congress illegitimate.

The opposition has accused Mr Maduro of veering into dictatorship by sidelining the legislature, detaining opponents and leaning on compliant judicial and electoral authorities to block the plebiscite they had been campaigning for.