Netherlands recognises Guadio as Venezuelan leader after deadline expires

France U.K. Recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela Interim PresidentMore

The United States recognised Guaido, who heads Venezuela's National Assembly, in late January when he declared himself the country's legitimate leader after maintaining that a presidential election past year was rigged to keep Maduro in power.

Inside the country, opposition figurehead Juan Guaido, 35, is vying to lure military commanders to switch their allegiance to him away from President Nicolas Maduro, 56.

The European countries urged Guaido to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible.

What started as a trickle has turned into a flow of European Union countries who have now officially declared Guaido as interim president. He added that "no one imposes an ultimatum on Venezuela". Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal also lined up behind Guaido, who last month declared himself interim president with the support of the United States and many South American nations.

"Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

The United States, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election previous year and recognized self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido as the country's rightful leader.

"I don't accept ultimatums from anybody", Maduro told Spanish TV channel La Sexta in an interview broadcast late Sunday.

But key Maduro ally Russian Federation slammed European "interference" in the oil-rich but impoverished Latin American country, saying it was an attempt "to legitimize usurped power".

"As a country that has an open-arms policy towards Venezuelans, we have received many important figures from the democratic opposition", said Federico Hoyos, Colombia's ambassador to Canada.

In his interview Monday, he supported plans for a meeting of Latin American and European Union states in a "Contact Group" in Montevideo on Thursday, saying it would lead to "dialogue".

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Under his stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has plunged into an economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

The situation has always been denounced by the opposition and Guaido stunned the world on January 23 when he declared himself acting president at a rally, declaring Maduro's presidency "illegitimate" and founded on flawed elections.

Such intervention "does not contribute in any way to a peaceful, effective and vital settlement to the crisis that Venezuelans are enduring", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland branded the Maduro government a dictatorship that has shown an inexcusable disregard for the rule of law and human rights.

"Faced with President Maduro's refusal to organize presidential elections which would clarify, calm the situation in Venezuela. we consider that Mr. Guaido has the capacity and legitimacy to organize these elections".

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in an interview that the election that brought Maduro to power was neither free or fair.

The president also announced a campaign to collect signatures against US "interventionist acts" starting on Wednesday and said they would be handed over to the White House. Guaido repeatedly has called on Venezuela's military, which has remained loyal to Maduro, to support a transition to democracy.

Opposition demonstrators take part in a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, called by opposition leader and self-proclaimed "acting president" Juan Guaido, near Parque Cristal in Caracas, Venezuela on January 30, 2019.

The 14-nation so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico but not the United States, met in Ottawa to discuss the way forward on Venezuela. Eleven of its members have recognised Guaido.

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