Venezuela’s President rejects election deadline, Israel backs opponent

Vastavam web: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said opposition leader Juan Guaido violated the constitution by declaring himself interim leader. Israel on Sunday joined a growing list of countries led by the United States that back Guaido’s claim to the presidency on the basis that Maduro’s second-term election victory was fraudulent.

Washington on Saturday urged the world to “pick a side” on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro’s government. Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro with food shortages and protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year. Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call fresh elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was “absurd” and the Venezuelan foreign minister called “childlike.”

“Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. Maduro retains the loyalty of the armed forces, though Venezuela’s top military envoy to the United States on Saturday defected to Guaido. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had voiced his support for Maduro in a phone call on Thursday.