Venezuela crisis: Pompeo urges countries to ‘pick a side’

New York: US Secretary of State Micheal Pompeo called on countries to “pick a side” in the Venezuelan political crisis and urged them to support opposition leader Juan Guaido while appealing for free and fair elections to be held in the South American country at the earliest.

“Now, it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with (Nicolas) Maduro and his mayhem,” Al Jazeera quoted Pompeo as saying while addressing the UN Security Council on Saturday.

Pompeo’s remarks came in the wake of the US and its regional allies recognising Guaido as the President and calling for President Maduro to step down.

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“We call on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role in it,” Pompeo added.

Meanwhile, Russia has accused the US of planning a coup attempt and opposed Washington’s efforts. Earlier, Russia unsuccessfully attempted to stop the emergency meeting of the Security Council called by the US.

“Venezuela does not represent a threat to peace and security,” said the Russian ambassador to the US, Vassily Nebenzia.”If anything does represent a threat to peace, it is the shameless and aggressive action of the United States and their allies aimed at the ouster of the legitimately elected president of Venezuela.”

China, South Africa, and Equatorial Guinea also blocked a push by the US for a statement by the Security Council expressing support for Venezuela’s National Assembly to be recognised as the “only democratically elected institution” in the country.

An Al Jazeera report confirmed that the majority of the Security Council supported the US’ cause.
The meeting was called a day after Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, pledged to remain on the streets until a transitional government was appointed, while Maduro accused the opposition of plotting a coup.

In a press conference, Guaido called on his supporters to hold another mass protest next week, while Maduro stressed on the need for a dialogue.

Earlier today, the European Union warned Maduro to call for re-elections within eight days. Upon failing to do so, the EU asserted that Guaido, who announced himself as an interim President on January 23, would be recognised as the new President of the nation.


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