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EU to 'take further actions' if new elections not called in Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro has been given eight days to call an election.

LAST UPDATE | 26 Jan 2019

THE EUROPEAN UNION “will take further actions” if new elections are not called in Venezuela in the coming days, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said, as international pressure grows on embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Her statement came after the United States, Canada and major South American governments recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president in a challenge to Maduro.

“In the absence of an announcement on the organisation of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership,” Mogherini said.

Spain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom also gave Maduro an ultimatum of eight days to call new elections or they would recognise Guaido as president.

The coordinated announcements are the most explicit yet from EU countries after the 28-member bloc struggled to draft a joint statement with regards to its position on the crisis in Venezuela.

Maduro’s reelection last year was contested by the opposition and rejected by the US, EU and UN as a sham – but he has until now retained the loyalty of the South American OPEC nation’s powerful military.

Guaido, who is chief of the elected National Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president of Venezuela during massive street rallies this week.

“The EU reiterates its full support to the National Assembly, which is the democratic legitimate body of Venezuela,” the Mogherini statement said.

We reaffirm our deep belief that a peaceful and inclusive democratic solution is the only sustainable way out of the current political impasse.

After four years of economic collapse that has left Venezuelans short of food and medicine and driven more than two million to flee, Guaido is trying to oust Maduro following elections that saw the socialist leader sworn in for a second term.

“If within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president” so that he himself can call such polls, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised announcement.

French President Emmanuel Macron followed suit in a tweet, saying “the Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide on their future,” as did German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz.

The coordinated announcements are the most explicit yet from EU countries as the 28-member bloc struggles to draft a joint statement with regards to its position on the crisis in Venezuela.

President Donald Trump’s administration has spearheaded the international pressure on Maduro, who accuses Washington of being behind an attempted “coup,” by declaring his regime “illegitimate.”

 © AFP 2019

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