Venezuela's Maduro rejects EU demand for new elections
January 27 2019 05:10 PM
Anti-Maduro demonstrators gather as one holds a poster of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido
Anti-Maduro demonstrators gather as one holds a poster of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido

Dpa/Buenos Aires

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday rejected an eight-day deadline from European nations to plan new elections.

‘Nobody can give us an ultimatum,’ broadcaster CNN Turk quoted him as saying in an interview, according to a Turkish translation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared his support for Maduro after opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday.

On Saturday, France, Germany and Spain gave Maduro eight days to announce free and fair elections or they will recognize Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, as Venezuela's leader.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also issued a statement that said the bloc as a whole could recognize Guaido if steps toward new elections were not taken ‘over the next days.’  Maduro's foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, had already rejected the deadline during an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Saturday.

‘Venezuela will not allow anyone to impose on us any decision or order,’ Arreaza said, adding that Caracas has ‘excellent friends’ it can call on for support to defend itself.

Maduro on Wednesday announced that Caracas was breaking off diplomatic relations with the US and gave it a 72-hour deadline to pull out its diplomats from Venezuela after US President Donald Trump's government recognized Guaido as interim president.

However, Venezuela on Saturday suspended its expulsion order, the foreign ministry in Caracas said.

The ministry said that it was now negotiating the establishment of a US interests office in Venezuela and will allow US embassy personnel to remain in the country while talks take place.

Talks about an interest section will have a 30-day limit and if no agreement is reached embassy personnel will then have to leave the country, according to the statement.

The US State Department ordered non-emergency US government employees to leave Venezuela following the imposition of Maduro's 72-hour deadline. A few diplomats remain in the US mission in Caracas.

Also on Saturday, the top military representative at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington distanced himself from Maduro in a video posted on his Twitter account.

Colonel Jose Luis Silva declared himself a supporter of Guaido, saying: ‘He is the only legitimate president.’  Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets this week to demand Maduro's resignation. He won a second term in May elections widely seen as undemocratic and was sworn in on January 10 amid mounting international pressure on him to step down.

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