PARIS: France said on Monday that Venezuela‘s opposition leader Juan Guaido had “the legitimacy to organise presidential elections” after President Nicolas Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call a snap vote on his rule.

Seven EU states had given Maduro a Sunday deadline to call presidential elections failing which they would recognise 35-year-old Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim president.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio that “faced with President Maduro’s refusal to organise presidential elections which would clarify, calm the situation in Venezuela … we consider that Mr Guaido has the capacity and legitimacy to organise these elections.”

Asked whether France now recognised Guaido as interim president Le Drian did not answer directly, saying the government would discuss the issue with its European neighbours.

Maduro said Sunday he would not give into ultimatums.

He has offered to call early parliamentary elections instead.

But Le Drian insisted that only a presidential election could end the crisis “because it’s a presidential regime” in Venezuela.

Guaido has already declared himself acting president.

On January 23, he declared Maduro’s presidency was “illegitimate” as it was founded on flawed elections.


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