Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself interim president of the beleaguered South American country, in a dramatic escalation of efforts to force President Nicolás Maduro from power.
The move was immediately welcomed by the US and Canadian governments. Donald Trump said he would use the “full weight” of US economic and diplomatic power to push for the restoration of Venezuela’s democracy.
In front of thousands of protesters in the capital, Caracas, Guaidó, the head of the opposition-run national assembly, raised his right hand and said he was “formally assuming the responsibility of the national executive”.
The 35-year-old lawmaker, said his surprise move was the only way to rescue Venezuela from “dictatorship” and restore constitutional order.
“We know that this will have consequences,” Guaidó, 35, told the cheering crowd standing before a lectern emblazoned with Venezuela’s national coat of arms.
“To be able to achieve this task and to re-establish the constitution we need the agreement of all Venezuelans,” he shouted.
Guaidó had previously declared himself willing to assume the presidency on an interim basis with the support of the armed forces to call elections.
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