Maduro rejects European ultimatum on elections

As a result many EU Member States announced on Monday they would support Guaido

Photo: EPA Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) during an event with members of the military.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro rejected Sunday the ultimatum by EU Member States to call snap elections after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the Latin American country's legitimate leader. France, Germany and Spain had given Maduro until midnight on Sunday to call a presidential election, or they would recognise Guaido as the interim president. But a defiant Maduro said in an interview with Spanish television station Sexta that he would not "cave in to pressure" from those calling for his departure.

"Why does the EU have to tell a country in the world that has already had elections that it has to repeat its presidential elections, because they were not won by their right-wing allies," said Maduro in Caracas, adding that he sees the ultimatum as an EU effort to force his country "into an extreme situation of confrontation."

Meanwhile, France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau had said the European nations would join the US and others in recognising Guaido, the 35-year-old National Assembly head who declared himself acting president at an opposition rally 11 days ago, as legitimate leader.

"If between now and this evening Maduro does not commit to organising presidential elections, we will consider that Guaido is legitimate to organise them in his place and we will consider him as interim president until the elections," Loiseau added.

Loiseau added that Maduro's suggestion of bringing forward parliamentary elections scheduled for 2020 was "a farce, a tragic farce".

Meanwhile, on Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that Guaido “is the legitimate interim president.” Similar announcements were also made by Spain, Sweden, Britain, Austria, Denmark and Lithuania 

The statements came as the European Union says that a newly formed "International Contact Group" of European and Latin American countries will hold its first meeting in Uruguay on Thursday to address the Venezuela crisis. The contact group includes the EU and eight of its member countries - France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain - as well as Latin American nations Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

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