Lima Group countries say won’t recognise new Maduro mandate

Lima: Foreign ministers from 12 Latin American countries and Canada said on Friday their governments would not accept Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president when he is sworn in for a second six-year term next week.
The 14-member Lima Group — with the exception of Mexico —said it would not grant recognition to Maduro’s hardline socialist government, after meeting in the Peruvian capital to discuss ways to step up international pressure on the regime, which has presided over the oil-rich country’s economic collapse.
Peru’s Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio said the group had delivered “a strong political message” ahead of Maduro’s inauguration on January 10.
Maduro was re-elected on May 20 in a ballot boycotted by the main opposition parties and widely condemned by the international community, including the United States which called it a “sham.”
“The main message is undoubtedly the non-recognition of the Venezuelan regime’s new term,” Popolizio told reporters.
“It is very important that the Lima Group has issued this statement to continue exerting pressure with a view to the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” the Peruvian minister said. The Group, of which Canada is a member, said Maduro should temporarily transfer power to the opposition-controlled National Assembly until free elections can be held.
“Nicolas Maduro is urged not to assume the presidency, to respect the powers of the assembly and to temporarily transfer power until new elections are held,” Popolizio said.
Venezuela hit back at the Lima Group, accusing it of fomenting a coup at the behest of the US, which has sanctioned Venezuelan officials and entities.
The United States, which is not a member of the group created after deadly anti-Maduro protests in 2017, participated in the meeting for the first time. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented by video conference from Washington. The arrival in power of a new far-right government in Brazil under President Jair Bolsonaro is likely to harden regional opposition to Maduro. — AFP