Maduro rival claims Venezuela presidency amid protests
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, backed by the US and many Latin American nations, forcing current president Nicolas Maduro to break ties with the US.
At a Caracas rally on Wednesday, 35-year-old head of the opposition-run congress, Juan Guaido said Maduro had usurped his power.
‘I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,’ He said, addressing the crowd.
Shortly after his announcement US president Donald Trump recognised Guaido and praised his plan to hold elections.
Shortly after Canada, Brazil and Colombia also backed Guaido.
Guaido's declaration could mean the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized and backed by the US and their supporters.
Maduro accuses US of staging a coup
Nicolas Maduro has since hit back at his opposition leader and the US.
In a televised broadcast, Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup against him, with the support of the US.
‘We've had enough interventionism, here we have dignity, damn it! Here is a people willing to defend this land,’ Maduro said.
Maduro has previously been supported by the armed forces who stood by him through two street protests, but have yet to make clear where their allegiance lies.
This isn’t the first time Maduro’s government accused Guaido of staging a coup, the previous accusation came with threats of jail time.
Venezuela’s constitution says new elections should be called in 30 days if Maduro steps down, and head of Congress should step in as interim president in the meantime. However, the pro-government Supreme Court has ruled actions taken by Congress as void.
Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a sham.
US sanctions on Venezuela
Analysts say the US could impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil as early as this week.
President Donald Trump said in a statement: ‘I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.’
Maduro has lead Venezuela as it fell into its worst-ever economic crisis, with hyperinflation expected to reach 10 million % by the end of the year.
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