Pence asks UN to expel Venezuelan representative (2nd Lead)

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United Nations, April 11 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence has called on the UN to expel the representative of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, while warning that Washington was open to using all options to oust the country’s leader.

“This body should revoke the credentials of Venezuela’s representative to the UN, recognise Interim President Juan Guaido, and seat the representative of the free Venezuelan government in this body without delay,” Pence told the Security Council on Wednesday.

“With all due respect, Mr Ambassador, you shouldn’t be here,” Pence told Venezuela’s UN representative, Samuel Moncada”

After accusing Maduro of human rights violations, impoverishing the nation and creating a failed state, Pence said that Washington would use diplomatic and economic means to bring about a peaceful change on government, adding: “All options are on the table.”

He said that the US would introduce a resolution in the Council to recognise Guaido as the legitimate president of the oil-rich Latin American nation.

However, it was certain to be vetoed by Russia, whose Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia sprang to Maduro’s defence. “If you want to make America great again, then stop interfering” in other countries, he said.

In February, Russia and China vetoed a US-sponsored resolution calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela and for humanitarian aid to be allowed in

The General Assembly would have to decide on expelling Moncada and replacing him with Guaido’s representative. The US is unlikely to get the required votes to carry it out.

“The member states are the ones who have the power over the credentials,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric later told the media. “If there is a challenge, the issue is for the member states themselves to decide.”

Last May’s presidential election has been disputed, with the opposition asserting it was unfair. Massive anti-government protests that broke out are continuing.

Guaido, who is the National Assembly President proclaimed himself the nation’s president and has been recognised by the US and its allies. The Organisation of American States has also voted to recognise him as the President.

Earlier at the Council, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, gave a stark picture of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela where, he said, nearly a quarter of the population needed help.

He said that malnutrition has increased and health of the people had deteriorated.

Pence also spoke of the dire conditions of the people and said that was the reason for Maduro to go, especially because he was preventing US humanitarian aid from reaching the people.

China’s Permanent Representative Ma Zhaoxu said a humanitarian issue should not be used to get non-humanitarian aims.

His country supported Venezuela’s efforts to maintain its independence and said the government and the opposition parties should seek a political solution through dialogue, he added.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)



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