February 3, 2019 9:28 am
Updated: February 3, 2019 11:05 am

France, Austria pledge to recognize Guaido if Venezuela’s Maduro does not call vote on Sunday

WATCH: Former ambassador to Venezuela and president of the Canadian International Council Ben Rowswell tells Mike Le Couteur the solution to the crisis in this country has to come from within and the rest of the world needs to support their solution.

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France and Austria have pledged to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro does not announce a new presidential election.

France’s European affairs minister said Sunday that the country would recognize Guaido if Maduro fails to call an election by Sunday night.

“If by tonight, (President) Maduro does not commit to organizing presidential elections, then France will consider Juan Guaido as legitimate to organize them in his place and we will consider him as the interim president until legitimate elections in Venezuela (take place),” Nathalie Loiseau told LCI television on Sunday.

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She dismissed Maduro‘s proposal of an early parliamentary election as a “farce.”

Austria will also acknowledge Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president if Nicolas Maduro does not respond to the European Union’s call for a free and fair presidential election, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter.

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President Maduro proposed an early parliamentary election on Saturday, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government.

Kurz’s message on Sunday echoed a statement by France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, who dismissed Maduro‘s election proposal as a “farce.”

“I just had a very good phone call with President @jguaido,” Kurz tweeted. “He has our full support to restore democracy in Venezuela.” Venezuelans had suffered too long from mismanagement and a disregard for the rule of law under Maduro, he said.

WATCH: Massive demonstrations in Venezuela demand Maduro’s resignation

Maduro proposed early parliamentary elections on Saturday, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government.

As domestic and international pressure on Maduro to step down mounts, a senior air force general disavowed him in a video that circulated earlier on Saturday, expressing his allegiance to parliament head and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido.

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The military’s support is crucial for Maduro, who is deeply unpopular, largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions. Maduroclaims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.

In a speech to supporters, Maduro said the powerful government-controlled Constituent Assembly would debate calling elections this year for the National Assembly parliament, which is opposition-controlled.

Guaido has called for a new, fair presidential election after the disputed vote won by Maduro last year.

READ MORE: Crowds gather across Canada in support of Venezuela’s Guaido

“You want elections? You want early elections? We are going to have parliamentary elections,” Maduro told a pro-government rally in Caracas, held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s first inauguration as president.

The United States, Canada and several Latin American nations have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head-of-state. Some European Union member states are expected to officially recognize Guaido next week, while others will likely take a more cautious stance of support. Maduro still has the backing of Russia and China.

© 2019 Reuters

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