PARIS (Reuters) - France stepped up pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Monday, saying opposition leader Juan Guaido has the right to organize new elections.
“Guaido has the capacity and the legitimacy to organize an election,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio station.
Several major European nations had been expected to start recognizing Guaido from Monday, after an eight-day deadline they set last weekend for Maduro to call a new vote.
The Venezuelan socialist leader, who is accused of running the OPEC nation like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy, has defied that, saying Europe’s ruling elite are sycophantically following U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Le Drian said France would consult European partners over Venezuela, and that it was imperative the conflict was resolved peacefully and civil war avoided.
The United States, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election last year, and backed Guaido.
Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, maintains the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, and the support of the military top brass.
Russia, a major creditor to Venezuela in recent years, has urged restraint.
Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Andrew Cawthorne