Monday 15 July 2019

Trump backs opposition in Venezuelan crisis

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Cody Weddle

The White House yesterday recognised Venezuela's opposition leader as the country's rightful president as the army fired tear gas at anti-government protesters in Caracas.

The move puts the US on a collision course with Nicolas Maduro, the beleaguered Leftist president, as the opposition leader symbolically swore himself in as president.

Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan National Assembly President, raised his right hand in front of tens of thousands of Venezuelans, "assuming the duties of the executive branch". The move had been anticipated for weeks after the 35-year-old announced that he was "willing" to assume the presidency on January 11, one day after Mr Maduro was inaugurated for a second term in office.

The opposition-controlled parliament and about 60 countries have pledged not to recognise Mr Maduro in his second term, and claim that Mr Guaido should assume the presidency under Venezuela's constitution.

They consider Mr Maduro's re-election in May 2018 as a sham.

US President Donald Trump yesterday said the opposition-controlled assembly, of which Mr Guaido is the head, was "the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people".

Mr Trump said that the US did not consider Mr Maduro the legitimate ruler of the Latin American country, and deemed "the office of the presidency therefore vacant".

Mr Maduro announced shortly after Mr Trump's declaration that he was ending diplomatic relations with the US and gave all US personnel 72 hours to leave the country.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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