As his country’s economy implodes around him, Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro has resorted to what may be a last-ditch effort to stay in power.

On Tuesday, the autocratic president appointed Defense Minister Padrino Lopez to a newly created role that could best be described as co-president. In making the move, Maduro also increased the power and autonomy of the military over civilians. Maduro has claimed that the political maneuver strengthens Venezuela in the midst of a U.S.-backed “economic war” being waged against the country; however, analysts told CNBC that Maduro is shoring up armed support as the forces arrayed against him gain power.

“I think this is a sign that Maduro recognizes his weakness, but is also a sign that he wants to demonstrate that he will go to all lengths to survive,” said Matthew Taylor, a senior fellow for Latin America Studies for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, shared similar sentiments: “Maduro needed to do this because there were too many fronts that were unstable. … It’s an arrangement he needed to bolster the government.”