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The Supreme Court, which is loyal to Maduro, quickly approved the measures on Tuesday after Attorney General Tarek William Saab asked it to take “precautionary measures” against Guaidó.

The opposition leader “is prohibited from leaving the country” until a preliminary investigation is complete after he “caused harm to peace in the republic”, court head Maikel Moreno said.

As leader of the National Assembly, Guaidó has immunity from prosecution unless subject to a ruling by the country’s top court.

Speaking to journalists as he arrived at the parliament, the opposition leader reportedly said the moves were “nothing new”.

“I’m not dismissing the threats, the persecution at this time, but we’re here, we’re continuing to do our jobs,” he said.

The court decision comes shortly after the US said it had handed control of Venezuela’s US bank accounts to Guaidó, whom it now regards as the country’s legitimate president.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton responded with a tweet warning of “serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaidó”.

@AmbJohnBolton said, “We denounce the illegitimate former Venezuelan Attorney General’s threats against President Juan Guaido. Let me reiterate – there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido.”

Why is Guaidó claiming the presidency?

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He says the constitution allows him, as the head of the National Assembly, to assume power temporarily when the president is deemed illegitimate.

“My duty is to call for free elections because there is an abuse of power and we live in a dictatorship,” Guaidó told the BBC on Monday.

He added: “In Venezuela, we either accept domination, total oppression and torture… from Maduro’s regime, or we choose freedom, democracy and prosperity for our people.”

Guaidó said the Maduro administration was “killing young poor people” in the streets.

What action is the US taking?

On Monday Bolton announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA to ensure that President Maduro could “no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people”.

He also hinted at possible military action, reiterating that “all options are on the table”.

Bolton appeared at a news briefing with a notepad containing the words “5,000 troops to Colombia”, which borders Venezuela.

On Tuesday acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan declined to say whether the Pentagon was considering sending troops. “I haven’t discussed that with Secretary Bolton,” he told reporters.

Also on Tuesday, the state department issued a travel advisory urging US nationals not to go to Venezuela because of “civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens”.

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