Venezuelan President says he is breaking off relations with US over its decision to recognise an opposition leader as interim president

2019-01-23 22:45
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (File, Ariana Cubillos, AP)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (File, Ariana Cubillos, AP)

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he is breaking off relations with the US and is giving American diplomats 72 hours to abandon the country over its decision to recognise an opposition leader as interim president.

"Before the people and nations of the world, and as constitutional president.... I've decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist US government," Maduro told a crowd of red-shirted supporters gathered at the presidential palace.

He made the announcement following a tumultuous day that saw Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress, declare himself interim president and call elections.

The move was immediately backed by the Trump administration, which said it was willing to use all its economic and diplomatic power to restore Venezuela's democracy.

Maduro said in his speech the US was making a "grave mistake" by trying to impose a president on Venezuela and rattled off a long list of countries — Guatemala, Brazil, Chile and Argentina — that saw leftist governments toppled or come under military rule during the Cold War with US support.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  nicolas maduro  |  venezuela
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