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Venezuela's Opposition Leader Declares Interim President | news



Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself Interim President of the country on Wednesday before thousands of demonstrators cheered.

"I swear to formally take over the power of Venezuela's presidency," said the 35-year-old politician, raising his right-hand man.

The move comes when tens of thousands march in Venezuela, demanding that Nicolas Maduro resign from power. There will also be counter-demonstrations.

Maduro was sworn in for a competitive second term two weeks ago, but was convicted internationally.

Trump recognizes Guaido as president

Shortly after Guaido has sworn in, US President Donald Trump has officially recognized Guaido as president.

" In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly relied on the constitution of the country to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and therefore the office of presidency was vacant" Trump said.

"The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law," he added.

The leader of the Organization of American States (OAS) also recognized Guaido as incumbent president.

A Canadian government official told Reuters that Ottawa would also recognize Guaido as president.

Maduro claims his presidency is legitimate and accuses the United States and other countries of conducting an "economic war" to take him out of power.

On Tuesday he ordered a "revision" of Venezuela's diplomatic relations with the United States. The order came after US Vice President Mike Pence declared support for protesters and opposition leaders.

Maduro's government still has to react to Guaido's recent move. His government has accused Guaido of staging a coup and threatened him with jail.

Supporters of the government Juan Romero told Al Jazeera that the US opposition and support is a "dangerous action".

"The constitutional president of the country is Nicolas Maduro," said Romero.

Rival Protests

Anti-government protesters clogged the streets east of Caracas on Wednesday, singing national flags flying "Get out, Maduro" and "Guaido, Presidente".

Red-clad government protesters supporting Maduro marched in the capital, sometimes crossing paths with opposition protesters, shouting "sell-outs" and "traitors." National guards used tear gas against anti-government demonstrators in the bourgeois neighborhood of El Paraiso, but most of the marches continued without conflict.

"Join us!" The demonstrators called for a line of officers wearing helmets and carrying shields. "They live in this crisis too!"

At a rally the night before the report, four people were declared dead, an echo of turbulent riots two years ago.

Opposition supporters take part in a rally against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

The protest of the opposition is considered a crucial test for The resuscitated opposition, as it wants to send out a powerful message that Maduro no longer has the support of the people, appeals to the military and the poor to postpone the loyalty that until recently stood behind the president. The protests were called on the occasion of a historic date for the Venezuelans – the anniversary of the coup of 1958, which overthrew military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez.

The opposition was fueled by young Congress leader Guaido, who led a campaign to declare Maduro a leader usurper and has promised the transition to a new government in a nation that is hit by a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

Maduro was inaugurated on January 10 for a new term of office following a far-boycotted election last year, which many foreign governments described as fraudulent.


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