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New Zealand must choose a side in the escalating situation in Venezuela, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“We have now seen waves of mass protests by Venezuelans who are taking to the streets in opposition to a presidential result widely seen as illegitimate.

“The situation worsens by the day and we cannot continue to claim to be supporters of democracy while the democratic crisis deepens. But the Government is refusing to act.

“By refusing to take a stand to endorse the interim presidency of Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly, the Government is de facto endorsing the incumbent regime which is refusing to hold a fresh and fair election.

“That positions New Zealand alongside the likes of Russia and Syria, rather than with our traditional allies including the UK, Canada, the US and Australia who support Mr Guaido.

“The Venezuelan constitution stipulates that without a valid claim to the presidency, the elected President of the Venezuelan National Assembly must step in as interim President to shepherd in new elections.

“The position of countries including the US, Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Lithuania, Austria, Latvia, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Luxembourg, Israel and Portugal is that there isn’t a valid claim on the presidency by any party.

“Just like with the Foreign Minister’s refusal to condemn Russia for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack, New Zealand is again being left behind by our allies by refusing to do the right thing.

“It is vital that fair and free elections are held in Venezuela as soon as possible. The fastest way for that to happen is for the international community to recognise Mr Guaido, as the leader of the National Assembly, and to echo the call for new elections.”

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