Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro rejected an ultimatum from European countries to call elections.
In an interview with Spanish TV network Sexta, he said he would not “cave in to pressure” by those urging him to step down.
“Why does the European Union 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,” Maduro said.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the move clears the way for seven EU countries to recognise his rival Juan Guaido as president.
Maduro was under massive pressure to call for new elections before midnight on February 3. Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium had said they would recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as president if Maduro does not announce a second vote before the eight-day ultimatum expires.
France’s European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, had told LCI television on February 3 that “if by tonight [President] Maduro does not commit to organising presidential elections, then France will consider Juan Guaido as legitimate to organise them in his place and we will consider him as the interim president until legitimate elections in Venezuela [take place].”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Vienna would “acknowledge and support Juan Guaido as president ad interim of Venezuela” if Maduro does not call new elections.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump had told American broadcaster CBS that sending the military to Venezuela was “an option”.
In Moscow, the head of Russian Foreign Ministry department for South America said that Venezuelans should be allowed to solve the crisis themselves.
“The mission of the international community is to help them do it, without destructive meddling from abroad,” diplomat Alexander Shchetinin told Zvezda broadcaster.