European countries on Sunday issued a last-ditch warning to Nicolas Maduro that they would recognise Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president if he did not call elections, as the clock ticked on their midnight deadline.
France’s Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, reiterated that the ultimatum issued by Paris, London, and five other European governments eight days ago was about to expire.
“If by tonight Mr Maduro does not commit to organising presidential elections, we will consider that Mr Guaidó is legitimate to organise them in his place and we will consider [him] the interim president of Venezuela until legitimate elections.”
The vote Mr Maduro won last May had been a “farce”, and a “fictitious election”, she said.
The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said on Sunday that his government would join the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium in recognising Mr Guaidó as leader.
In a tweet, Mr Kurz said he had spoken to “President Guaidó” by telephone, and that he had Austria’s “full support to restore democracy in Venezuela”.
“Venezuelans have suffered too long from the mismanagement and disregard of the rule of law by the Maduro regime.”
Washington also turned up the heat on an increasingly isolated Mr Maduro, as Donald Trump, the US president, again warned that military intervention in the oil-rich South American nation was “an option”.