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Spain, France, Germany give ultimatum to Venezuela’s Maduro

Madrid, Jan 26 (IANS) Spain, France and Germany on Saturday gave an ultimatum to embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, saying that they would recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as President unless he calls a new election within eight days.

“Spain gives Nicolas Maduro eight days to call an election and if it doesn’t occur, we will recognize Juan Guaido as President,” said Sanchez during a press conference here.

Sanchez thus became the first of the European Union’s 28 heads of government to position himself before the bloc’s adoption of a common stance on the ongoing legitimacy crisis in Venezuela, the BBC reported.

Guaido, the 35-year-old head of the National Assembly, proclaimed himself Venezuela’s acting President on Wednesday, a move that was recognized by several countries, including the US.

But Maduro accused US President Donald Trump of mounting a coup and cut off diplomatic ties with Washington in response.

He also said that Sanchez was “repeating the script” of Spain’s former right-wing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (1996-2004), who immediately supported the failed coup against then-President Hugo Chavez in 2002.

The Spanish Prime Minister’s call was soon followed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who reiterated the eight-day ultimatum in a post on Twitter.

“The Venezuelan people need to be able to freely decide their future,” Macron wrote. “Without announcing elections in 8 days, we could recognize Guaido as “President in charge” of Venezuela to implement said political process. We are working together with our European allies.”

A spokesperson of the German government issued a similar statement. The UN Security Council was expected to meet on the crisis later in the day.

Maduro’s opponents claim that he has “usurped” his position by being sworn into the office following a snap presidential election that he won with 67.8 per cent of the vote and the main opposition parties boycotted by calling for active abstention.

In response to the crisis, Trump and the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru had announced their recognition of Guaido as Venezuela’s interim President.

The Chinese, Bolivian, Cuban, Iranian, Turkish and Russian governments, on the other hand, expressed their support for Maduro.

Tens of thousands had taken part in anti-Maduro protests, angry at years of economic freefall.

On Friday, Maduro said he was ready to talk to his rival, but Guaido rejected “fake dialogue” and said he would consider offering Maduro amnesty.

Maduro has so far retained the support of the country’s military, but Guaido asked them to “put themselves on the side of the Venezuelan people” and support him instead.

He also called for major demonstrations demanding Maduro’s resignation to be held next week.




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