Italy backs free and fair polls, peaceful democracy in Venezuela

POLITICS
Italy backs free and fair polls, peaceful democracy in Venezuela

Italy supports the Venezuelan people's wish for "free, fair and transparent presidential elections to be held soonest and to peacefully and democratically determine their future," premier Giuseppe Conte's office said in a statement late Monday.


"Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to relieve the suffering of the population. Citizens' security also needs to be guaranteed and any form of violence must be avoided," the statement said.

"The right to freely and peacefully protest to express dissent must be upheld, without any form of coercion," the statement added.

Italy will on Thursday take part in a meeting of the new European Union led contact group for Venezuela being held in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, the statement concluded.

Italy's foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi will attend Thursday's meeting in Montevideo, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Italy's populist has stopped short of recognising Venezuela's opposition-held National Assembly's leader Juan Guaido as interim president and is said to have blocked an EU resolution supporting him on Thursday at an informal meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Bucharest.

Italy's populist coalition government is split and not likely to back any co-ordinated plan on Venezuela because the leaders of one half of the ruling coalition, the Five-Star Movement, have declared that it's not "for the EU to tell another nation what to do".

So far more than half of EU states have declared recognition of Guaido as interim leader, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain, and Guaido on Monday urged Italy to follow suite.

Guiado, who leads the opposition-held National Assembly, declared himself interim president on 23 January after Venezuela's leftist president Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term earlier last month.

Maduro defiantly rejected a Sunday deadline set by several EU states to call fresh elections and denounced Guaido's move as a coup.

Venezuela's contested May 2018 presidential elections were marred by an opposition boycott and allegations of vote-rigging which triggered large protests in Venezuela amid a protracted economic crisis that has driven over million people from the country.



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