EU RECOGNIZE GUAIDO AS VENEZUELA INTERIM PRESIDENT.
The UK, France, Germany, Spain and other European countries have officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.
It comes after President Nicolás Maduro defiantly rejected a deadline they set for Sunday to call fresh elections.
Mr Guaidó declared himself interim leader last month and won US backing.
Russia – a backer of Mr Maduro – accused EU countries of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.
On Sunday Mr Maduro dismissed calls for a new presidential vote, saying he would not accept “ultimatums”. He has denounced Mr Guaidó’s move as a coup.
As head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Mr Guaidó says the constitution allows him to assume power temporarily when the president is deemed illegitimate.
After Sunday’s deadline passed, a flurry of statements was issued by France, the UK, Germany and Spain and the other countries that now recognise Mr Guaidó as interim president.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Venezuelans had the right to “express themselves freely and democratically” announcing his support for an EU contact group.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Venezuela “should be the author of its own destiny”.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said that “further steps” were being considered, including the use of sanctions, without outlining what form any possible sanctions might take.
At least 15 EU countries have backed Mr Guaidó, but others, such as Greece, have expressed support for Mr Maduro. Italy has also not joined others in recognising Mr Guaidó, amid divisions between the anti-establishment and right-wing parties that form its coalition government.
Russia has slammed Monday’s statements, accusing EU countries of interfering in Venezuela’s affairs and attempting to “legitimise usurped power”.
The Venezuelan government said it would “fully review” its relations with the European governments who recognised Mr Guaidó.