Germany says Venezuela’s president Maduro has ‘no legitimacy’

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German government spokesman Steffen Seibert arrives for a news conference in Berlin, Germany, April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government on Thursday called for democratic new elections in Venezuela, joining forces with the United States in saying it stood with the opposition-controlled National Assembly, not Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“With regard to #Venezuela, we are not neutral,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. “We support the National Assembly, which is elected by the people. Maduro has no democratic legitimacy as President.”

The United States on Thursday requested a public U.N. Security Council meeting on Venezuela, a day after recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and urging other countries to do the same.

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning support from U.S. President Donald Trump and some Latin American countries. Maduro has responded by cutting diplomatic ties with the United States and ordering the country’s diplomats to leave.

Maas told Germany’s Deutsche Welle broadcaster on Thursday: “We are on (Juan) Guaido’s side,” the media group said in a posting on Twitter.

Germany, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, earlier said the National Assembly had a special role to play in securing a free future for Venezuela.

“The Venezuelan people are courageously committed to a free future for the country,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted. “This requires a political process that leads to free and credible elections. The democratically elected National Assembly has a special role to play here.”

Writing by Paul Carrel and Andrea Shalal; editing by Thomas Seythal and James Dalgleish

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