France, Britain, Spain, Austria, Sweden and Denmark on Monday recognised Opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela.
The coordinated move from major European nations came after the expiry of an eight-day deadline they set last weekend for President Nicolas Maduro to call a new vote.
“Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically. France recognizes @jguaido as ‘interim president’ to implement an electoral process,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
Earlier in the day, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian toldFrance Interradio 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.”
“Nicolas Maduro has not called presidential elections within 8 day limit we have set,” Britian’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter.
“So U.K. alongside European allies now recognises @jguaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held,” Mr. Hunt said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters in Madrid on Monday that “we are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela — human rights, elections and no more political prisoners.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Kurz said on Tiwtter that Austria supported efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela, where he said there was an absence of the rule of law.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Swedish broadcaster SVT the vote that brought Mr. Maduro to power was not a “free and fair election”.
“Denmark recognises the President of the National Assembly … until new free and democratic elections take place,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen tweeted ahead of a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels. “Applaud similar statements from key EU partners. Important EU statement coming up.”
European ultimatum to call vote
Mr. Maduro said on Sunday that he would not give into ultimatums. He has so far rejected calls by European countries to call an early election. He has offered to call early parliamentary elections instead.
The Venezuelan leader, accused of running the OPEC nation like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy, has defied that, saying Europe’s ruling elite are sycophantically following U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Mr. Guaido, who leads the Opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself temporary leader on January 23 in a move that has split global powers.
Mr. Trump immediately recognised him and European Union nations backed Mr. Guaido, though some have been nervous over the global precedent of a self-declaration.
Russia and China, who have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into the OPEC nation, are supporting Mr. Maduro.