Venezuela opposition leader Guaido plans massive rallies against President Maduro

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Published 28.01.2019 16:18
Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido speaks to the press after attending a mass at the San Jose church in Caracas on Jan. 27, 2019. (AFP Photo)
Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido speaks to the press after attending a mass at the San Jose church in Caracas on Jan. 27, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido called Sunday for two new protests, in an effort to push the military to turn against elected President Nicolas Maduro and back a European ultimatum demanding a new round of elections within the week.

In a video posted on Twitter, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said the first of the nationwide strikes, on Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. (1600-1800 GMT), would be one "to demand that the armed forces side with the people."

The second, on Saturday, will be a "big national and international rally to back the support of the European Union and the ultimatum" from Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands that they would recognize Guaido as interim president unless Maduro calls elections by Feb. 3.

The EU was more vague, saying it would take "further actions" if elections were not called in the coming days, including the issue of recognition of the country's "leadership."

The United States separately warned there would be a "significant response" if U.S. diplomats, Guaido or the opposition-controlled National Assembly were targeted with violence and intimidation.

Nearly 30 people have been killed and more than 350 arrested in clashes with security forces over the past week.

Maduro on Sunday called on the country's military to stay in "unity and discipline" against the "imperialist coup attempt."

Security forces have become increasingly loyal to Venezuela and its constitution despite several attempts to divide the army, Maduro told soldiers during his visit to the 41st Armored Brigade in Carabobo state.

He stressed that Venezuela will keep all weapons systems, military power, operational capability, military-civil unity and militia forces ready so that "no one can touch our holy sky."

In an interview with Turkish private broadcaster CNN Turk on Sunday, Maduro vowed that the elected government of Venezuela "will finally win" and his country would survive the "coup attempt."

Maduro stated that they are going to overcome the problem in his country with laws and justice, and added he is "open for dialogue."

Highlighting that Guaido violated the constitution, he said, however, he was not a jury and the issue would be solved in accordance with the law.

Maduro said Europe was "again making a mistake" by issuing the ultimatum

"Europeans were arrogant in this process. They should take back this ultimatum. No one can give us an ultimatum," he said.

On Wednesday, following mass demonstrations throughout the country, Gauido, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, announced Maduro as illegitimate and declared himself as the interim president.

Soon after, U.S. President Donald Trump put out a statement recognizing Guaido as the president of the country.

Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay have followed suit while Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.

Turkey, Russia and China all opposed the U.S. call to support Guaido, and condemned any international interference in the affairs of Venezuela. Iran also put its weight behind incumbent President Maduro.

Turkey's 'solidarity'

In the interview Sunday mentioned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's stance, saying: "Mr. Erdoğan is a brave man who respects values. We trust solidarity of Turkish nation and President Erdoğan."

The Venezuelan president said he was initially unaware of July 2016 defeated coup in Turkey -- organized by Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) -- and added he saw photographs of people on the streets.

"When I learned about the coup attempt and saw photos of the nation defending their homeland, I immediately told my foreign minister to condemn this attack," he said.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Maduro also noted that the western media portrayed the coup attempt as "something good" for Turkey, and they opposed Erdoğan.

"Since that day we've been friends with Mr. Erdoğan," he said, adding that he loves Turkish people.

"Turkey has a very important and beautiful history. I'm so happy that they are supporting us and standing with us," he said.

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