US requests UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The United States on Thursday called for a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis in Venezuela after it recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the acting president.

The US mission to the United Nations said it requested that the council meet in open session at 9 am (1400 GMT) Saturday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to attend, diplomats said.

Pompeo earlier warned Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, not to use force against demonstrators and called for stronger international support for the self-declared acting president.

The United States has won support for the move from about a dozen Latin American countries including Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. France and Britain, which are among the five permanent council members, have also questioned Maduro's legitimacy.

Russia and China, however, have thrown their weight behind Maduro. UN diplomats said Russia may try to block the meeting by calling for a procedural vote, arguing that Venezuela is not on the council's agenda.

Mexico, Cuba and Bolivia have also pledged support for Maduro.

US President Donald Trump recognized Guaido, the speaker of Venezuela's parliament, as acting leader, declaring his National Assembly "the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people".

At a special meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, Pompeo warned Maduro that "the time for debate is done" and called his government "illegitimate".

South Africa's Ambassador to the United Nations, Jerry Matjila, told reporters that "we will listen to what Mike Pompeo has to say" but added that it was unlikely that the council could agree on a unified position.

South Africa, a non-permanent council member, considers Maduro as the legitimate president.