Saturday 23 February, 2019

European nations recognise Guaido as Venezuelan leader

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, center, who has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, greets supporters as he arrives at a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Hernandez)

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, center, who has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, greets supporters as he arrives at a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Hernandez)

Spain, France and Sweden have all announced that they are recognising Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president and are urging him to hold a new presidential election.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters in Madrid on Monday that "we are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: human rights, elections, and no more political prisoners."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking Monday to France Inter Radio, urged Guaido to call an early presidential election that will ensure "the Venezuelan crisis ends peacefully."

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Swedish broadcaster SVT the vote that brought Maduro to power was not a "free and fair election."

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has so far rejected calls by European countries to call an early election.

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