Spain and EU call for elections and talks to resolve political crisis in Venezuela

SPAIN and the EU have called for talks and elections in Venezuela after an opposition leader swore himself in as interim president while the political and economic crisis there deepens.

Spanish government sources said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had spoken with Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

Sanchez told the opposition leader that Spain recognised the legitimacy of the assembly and that it backed holding free elections. He stopped short of recognising Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader.

It comes as Guaido declared himself Venezuela’s interim president as opposition against sitting leader Nicolas Maduro continues to grow. Maduro has faced allegations of electoral fraud and is increasingly seen as a dictator.

Josep Borrell, Spain’s Foreign Minister, said the EU needed a united position on Venezuela. The bloc issued a statement last week which called for the rights of demonstrators and the legitimacy of the National Assembly to be respected while also calling for elections.

Pablo Casado, leader of Spain’s conservative Partido Popular, and head of the centrist Ciudadanos Albert Rivera have both called on Madrid to recognise Guaido.

The news come as the US, Canada, Britain, and a host of Latin American countries recognised Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

The EU has called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis while Bolivia, China, Russia and Turkey continue to back Maduro.

Maduro and his supporters claim the US and other countries are attempting to engineer a coup.

Nicolas Maduro took over as Venezuela’s president following the death of revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Falling oil prices and US sanctions have plunged the country’s already fragile economy deeper into crisis and Maduro has tightened his grip on power since, with some opposition groups banned.

Several countries and the EU refused to recognise the results of elections last year which saw Maduro elected to a second term.

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