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EU to 'take further actions' if new elections not called in Venezuela: Mogherini

Spain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom on Saturday also gave Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro an ultimatum of eight days to call new elections or they would recognise Guaido as president.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro. Picture: AFP

BRUSSELS - The European Union "will take further actions" if new elections are not called in Venezuela in the coming days, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said on Saturday, as international pressure grows on embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Her statement came after the United States, Canada and major South American governments recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president in a challenge to Maduro.

"In the absence of an announcement on the organisation of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's leadership," Mogherini said.

Spain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom on Saturday also gave Maduro an ultimatum of eight days to call new elections or they would recognise Guaido as president.

The coordinated announcements are the most explicit yet from EU countries after the 28-member bloc struggled to draft a joint statement with regards to its position on the crisis in Venezuela.

Maduro's reelection last year was contested by the opposition and rejected by the US, EU and UN as a sham -- but he has until now retained the loyalty of the South American OPEC nation's powerful military.

Guaido, who is chief of the elected National Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president of Venezuela during massive street rallies this week.

"The EU reiterates its full support to the National Assembly, which is the democratic legitimate body of Venezuela," the Mogherini statement said. "We reaffirm our deep belief that a peaceful and inclusive democratic solution is the only sustainable way out of the current political impasse."

After four years of economic collapse that has left Venezuelans short of food and medicine and driven more than two million to flee, Guaido is trying to oust Maduro following elections that saw the socialist leader sworn in for a second term.

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