Australia "recognises and supports" Venezuela's oppn leader as president: FM
Australia "recognises and supports" Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido as interim leader, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Monday, following similar endorsements from the United States and Canada. "Australia recognises and supports the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, in assuming the position of interim president... until elections are held," Payne said in a statement. She called for a "transition to democracy in Venezuela as soon as possible".
"We now urge all parties to work constructively towards a peaceful resolution of the situation, including a return to democracy, respect for the rule of law and upholding of human rights of the Venezuelan people," Payne added. There have been mass protests in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro amid a severe economic and political crisis.
Canberra's decision follows declarations on Saturday by Spain, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany that said they would recognise Guaido as interim president unless Maduro calls elections within eight days. Maduro on Sunday rejected the European ultimatum.
Guaido proclaimed himself acting president of the South American nation Wednesday at a mass opposition rally, and called for the military to turn against Maduro's leftist government. The military has so far backed the regime, which came into power more than two decades ago led by the late Hugo Chavez.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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