French FM tells Venezuela not to crack down on opposition

PARIS, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian on Friday called on the Venezuelan leadership not to crack down on the opposition movement in that country and to refrain from violence against demonstrators there.

Speaking to the press at the annual New Year greetings ceremony, Le Drian said that France would “fully back” Venezuela’s parliament which has declared its Speaker as the new President to replace elected leader Nicolas Maduro.

“We strongly urge (President) Maduro to refrain from any form of repression against the opposition, or any resorting to violence against peaceful demonstrators,” the Foreign Minister said.

He added that National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido, who this week claimed the presidency of Venezuela, would get the full support of the French authorities.

The US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and several other Latin American countries have already recognised Guaido as the new leader in Venezuela.

But the armed forces have said they will remain loyal to Maduro, leaving open the possibility of a military crack-down on the opposition.

Venezuela’s oil rich economy has gone into a tailspin under Maduro and millions of Venezuelans have fled to other Latin American countries, causing a major migrant problem.

Le Drian also backed a call for new elections in the country and for democracy to be restored there.

The EU is currently formulating a position on the crisis that will likely include a call for Maduro to step down.

Source: Kuwait News Agency