February 3, 2019 / 1:52 PM / in 16 days

Austria to recognize Guaido if Venezuela's Maduro does not call election

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria will acknowledge Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president if Nicolas Maduro does not respond to the European Union’s call for a free and fair presidential election, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter.

President Maduro proposed an early parliamentary election on Saturday, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government.

Kurz’s message on Sunday echoed a statement by France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, who dismissed Maduro’s election proposal as a “farce”.

“I just had a very good phone call with President @jguaido,” Kurz tweeted. “He has our full support to restore democracy in Venezuela.” Venezuelans had suffered too long from mismanagement and a disregard for the rule of law under Maduro, he said.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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