World

Venezuelan challenger accused of coup bid

Venezuelan authorities say they are putting down a small coup attempt after opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced he was in the “final phase” of ending President Nicolás Maduro’s rule.

He appeared in a video with uniformed men, saying he had military support.

Mr Guaidó, who declared himself interim president in January, called for more members of the military to help him end Mr Maduro’s “usurpation” of power.

The military has generally supported Mr Maduro in the stand-off with Mr Guaidó.

But as resentment has grown following years of hyperinflation, power cuts, food and medicine shortages, Mr Maduro’s detractors hope the military will change its allegiance.

So far, they have stood by Mr Maduro – despite dozens of countries, including the US and most of Latin America, recognising Mr Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

The world is now watching to see if Mr Guaidó’s latest bid will be the moment Mr Maduro is toppled from power.

Mr Maduro, however, has emerged saying he still has the full support of the military.

Mr Guaidó appeared in a three-minute video standing alongside another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who has been under house arrest since being found guilty of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.

Mr López said he had been freed by members of the military who had declared their loyalty to Mr Guaidó.

In the video, which was shared on social media, Mr Guaidó announced he had the support of “brave soldiers” in Caracas.

“People of Venezuela, let’s take to the streets… to support the end of the usurpation, which is irreversible… The National Armed Forces have taken the correct decision, they have the support of the people of Venezuela, and the backing of our constitution, they are guaranteed to be on the right side of history,” he said.

Mr Guaidó, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has been calling on the military to back him ever since he declared himself interim president.

He argues that President Maduro is a “usurper” because he was re-elected in polls that had been widely disputed.

The video appeared to have been recorded at dawn in or near La Carlota air force base in the capital Caracas.

Events in Venezuela are uncertain and unclear but Mr Guaidó has seemingly gambled heavily in his latest bid for power. –BBC



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