Maduro rejects polls call | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 28, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 28, 2019

Maduro rejects polls call

Venezuelan US defense attache deserts Maduro as West ups ante

  • At UN, Pompeo asks countries to 'pick a side' on Venezuela
  • Russia slams EU nations eight day ultimatum on polls 

 

Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said opposition leader Juan Guaido had violated the country's constitution by declaring himself leader.

Maduro, in an interview with CNN Turk aired yesterday, also said he was open to dialogue and that meeting US President Donald Trump was improbable but not impossible. The broadcaster dubbed the interview from Spanish into Turkish.

Washington, which has recognised Guaido as leader, had on Saturday urged the world to "pick a side" on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government.

Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro with food shortages and protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year.

Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call fresh elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was "absurd" and the Venezuelan foreign minister called "childlike."

Washington, Canada most Latin American nations and many European states have labelled Maduro's second-term election win last May fraudulent.

Some 26 people have been killed and more than 350 people have been detained in clashes this week between anti-Maduro activists and security forces, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Friday.

Maduro retains the loyalty of the armed forces, though Venezuela's top military envoy to the United States on Saturday defected to Guaido.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at a special UN Security Council meet, asked all nations to follow the US in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

"Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem," he said.

Pompeo denounced Russia and China, which have stood by Maduro, saying that they were "propping up a failed regime in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years."

Meanwhile, a 72-hour deadline issued by Maduro for US embassy personnel to leave Caracas expired on Saturday, after the embattled socialist leader broke off bilateral relations on Wednesday.

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