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Venezuela's Guaido accused of coup attempt


IANS Caracas
Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday said they were putting down a small coup attempt after self-declared President Juan Guaido announced he was in the "final phase" of ending embattled President Nicolss Maduro's rule.
Guaido appeared in a video with uniformed men, saying he had military support. He called for more members of the military to help him end Maduro's "usurpation" of power, the BBC reported.
Guaido, who declared himself interim President in January, appeared in a three-minute video standing alongside prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, under house arrest since being found guilty of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.
Lopez said he had been freed by members of the military who had declared their loyalty to Guaido. "I have been freed by soldiers on the order of the Constitution and President Guaido. I am at Carlota (military) base. We all need to mobilise. It's time to conquer freedom," said Lopez.
In the video, shared on social media, Guaido 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.
Guaido, 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 Maduro is a "usurper" because he was re-elected in polls that had been widely disputed.
Venezuela's Communications Minister said the government of Maduro was confronting a coup. "We inform the people of Venezuela that we are currently confronting and deactivating a small group of traitor military personnel," he said.
Guaido declared himself interim President on January 23 in a direct challenge to leftist leader Maduro's authority and has since won the backing of dozens of powerful nations, including the US and most of the European Union.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a tweet backing Guaido. "The US government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy," he wrote.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said US President Donald Trump had been briefed and "we are monitoring the ongoing situation".
But a spokeswoman for the Spanish government warned against "bloodshed" in Venezuela.
Colombian President Ivan Duque called on the Venezuelan army to back Guaido.

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 8:36 PM IST

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