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UK, France, Germany recognise Venezuela opposition leader Guaido as acting president

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido arrives for a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 04, 2019, 03.14 PM (IST)

Britain, France, Spain and Germany on Monday recognised Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido as interim leader after President Nicolas Maduro rejected a demand by several European powers for fresh elections.

"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," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Twitter.

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"Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically. France recognises @jguaido as 'acting president' to implement an electoral process," President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in both French and Spanish.

"The Spanish government announces that it officially recognises Venezuela's National Assembly president, Mr Guaido Marquez, as acting president of Venezuela," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters, calling on Guaido to call elections quickly.

During a visit to Tokyo Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "As of yesterday, no presidential election had been called." 

"Therefore, Guaido is the person we are talking to and we expect him to begin an election process as soon as possible. He is the legitimate interim president for this task from Germany's point of view and from the point of view of several European countries. We hope that this process can be carried out as quickly and peacefully as possible."

'Guaido has legitimacy to organise presidential elections'

France said that Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido had "the legitimacy to organise presidential elections" after President Nicolas Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call a snap vote on his rule.

Seven EU states had given Maduro a Sunday deadline to call presidential elections failing which they would recognise 35-year-old Guaido, who heads Venezuela's National Assembly, as the country's interim president.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio that "faced with President Maduro's refusal to organise presidential elections which would clarify, calm the situation in Venezuela... we consider that Mr Guaido has the capacity and legitimacy to organise these elections."

Asked whether France now recognised Guaido as interim president Le Drian did not answer directly, saying the government would discuss the issue with its European neighbours.

Maduro said Sunday he would not give into ultimatums. He has offered to call early parliamentary elections instead.

But Le Drian insisted that only a presidential election could end the crisis "because it's a presidential regime" in Venezuela.

Guaido has already declared himself acting president. On January 23, he declared Maduro's presidency was "illegitimate" as it was founded on flawed elections.

Story highlights

Spain ALso recognised Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido as acting leader after President Nicolas Maduro defiantly rejected an ultimatum by European countries to call snap elections.