Eight European nations yesterday recognized Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido as interim president after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defiantly rejected an ultimatum by European countries to call snap elections.
France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Austria and Germany’s coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day deadline for Maduro to call a new elections.
France was first to make the announcement.
“Guaido has the capacity and the legitimacy to organize an election,” French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio station.
It was imperative the conflict was resolved peacefully and civil war avoided, he said.
A few hours later, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters: “The Spanish government announces that it officially recognizes Venezuela’s National Assembly president, Mr Guaido Marquez, as acting president of Venezuela.”
Sweden was third, with Swedish radio quoting the nation’s minister of finance as saying that Stockholm considered Guaido the legitimate interim leader, British while British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt posted a similar statement on Twitter.
“UK alongside European allies now recognises @jguaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held. Let’s hope this takes us closer to ending humanitarian crisis,” Hunt wrote.
Maduro, who is accused of running Venezuela like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy, has defied that, saying Europe’s ruling elite are sycophantically following US President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone,” he said in an interview that aired on Spanish television channel Antena 3 on Sunday. “I refuse to call for elections now — there will be elections in 2024.”
The US, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election last year, and backed Guaido. Maduro maintains the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, and the support of the military top brass.
Meanwhile, a major bloc of Latin American nations and Canada were yesterday scheduled to meet in Ottawa to discuss how to maintain pressure on Maduro to hold elections.
However, sources briefed on the matter said that the 14-nation Lima Group looked set, though, to hold off imposing further sanctions on the Maduro government at the meeting.
Most group members say Maduro should quit in favor of Guaido and are calling for a new presidential election.
“How can we continue to support the opposition to keep the pressure up on the regime and push for new elections? Certainly that’s something we’ll be looking at,” a Canadian government official said.
Yesterday meeting in Ottawa would also discuss how to aid Venezuelans, including through immediate humanitarian assistance, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea’s office said.
Trudeau spoke on Sunday to Guaido and the two “discussed the importance of the international community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime,” his office said.
US President Donald Trump, in an interview that aired on Sunday, said military intervention in Venezuela was “an option.”
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