US calls for ‘new government’ in Venezuela

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The State Department expressed support Saturday for an opposition party’s bid to replace Nicolás Maduro as Venezuela’s leader, declaring Maduro’s government illegitimate.

A statement from the agency’s deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, encouraged the Venezuelan General Assembly’s president, Juan Guaidó, who on Friday told supporters outside the legislature he was prepared to invoke the country’s constitution to remove Maduro and serve as interim president.

{mosads}Maduro, who was recently elected to a second six-year term, has faced accusations of illegitimacy from the U.S. and other nations due to low voter turnout, boycotts and ballot irregularities that occurred during last year’s election.

“It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government,” Palladino said. “We support the National Assembly’s call for all Venezuelans to work together, peacefully, to restore constitutional government and build a better future.”

“The United States government will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” he added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is in Abu Dhabi as part of a multicountry tour of the Middle East, told reporters Saturday that the U.S. would “work diligently” to see democracy restored in Venezuela, according to The Associated Press.

“The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will continue … to work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country,” he said. “We are very hopeful that we can be force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.”

Vice President Pence wrote earlier this month on Twitter that the U.S. would not recognize the “sham” election that had led Maduro to a second term, while the Trump administration has imposed sanctions against members of Maduro’s inner circle.

“The US does not recognize the illegitimate result of a stolen election,” Pence tweeted. “We’ll continue to stand w/ the people of Venezuela & against Maduro’s corrupt regime until freedom & democracy prevail in Venezuela!”

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