US, UK say Venezuela's Maduro 'illegitimate', Russian Federation and Turkey express support

Despite Guaido's personal assurances in Bogota that he would declare himself interim president at a January 23 rally coinciding with the anniversary of the 1958 coup that ended Venezuela's military dictatorship, the suspense lasted until the hours before the announcement, said a Latin American diplomat from the Lima Group who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A defiant Maduro recalled Venezuelan diplomats from the US and closed the embassy there on Thursday. Last week 17 Latin American countries, as well as the U.S., Canada and 28 member states of the European Union, declared Maduro a "dictator".

The administration says Maduro's order isn't legal because the U.S.no longer recognizes him as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

"I thank Russia, China, Turkey and other governments and people of the world for their strong support of the legitimately established government of Venezuela", Nicolas Maduro said in a Twitter post. He is considering making a request for funds from global institutions including the worldwide Monetary Fund, two sources said on Friday.

"Don't trust the gringos", he said, adding they only have "the ambition to take Venezuela's oil, gas and gold". Their departure came after Maduro broke off relations with Washington and ordered the US personnel out.

Venezuela's military brass pledged unwavering support to Maduro, delivering vows of loyalty Thursday before rows of green-uniformed officers on state television.

What will this mean for Venezuela's deep economic and political crisis?

His rapid ascent has raised hopes that he could fill a leadership vacuum in Venezuela's notoriously divided opposition, which has failed in several attempts to oust Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez. "On behalf of the people of #Albania I wish Juan Guaido and the courageous Venezuelans success in getting rid of the illegitimate power that has turned their country into a hell for its own people", he wrote on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron saluted the courage of Venezuelans marching for freedom and called Maduro's 2018 election victory illegal.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro can not be the legitimate leader because the elections that had returned him to office were not fair, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

"[Simón ] Bolívar used to curse against soldiers who give their back to the people", he said in reference to Venezuela's independence hero. "It could get pretty ugly", said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank on Western Hemisphere affairs in Washington.

Backed by Venezuela's military, Maduro has refused to show any hint he's ready to cede power, setting up a potentially explosive struggle, though he said Friday that he remains open to talking with the opposition.

In an address Thursday, Maduro recalled the long history of heavy-handed US interventions in Latin America during the Cold War as he asked his allies for support.

The Venezuelan president's opponents blame his socialist government for the economic instability.

"I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation", said Guaido, recently elected head of congress, before an exuberant crowd.

But there were no signs that security forces were widely heeding Guaido's call to go easy on demonstrators.


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