France has rejected allegations that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has been holed up inside the nation’s diplomatic mission in Caracas. Venezuelan authorities earlier labeled Guaido a “fugitive from justice.”
“Juan Guaido is not at the French residence in Caracas. We have repeatedly confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities,” French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Agnes von der Muhll said.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza earlier claimed that Guaido, who was named ‘interim president’ by the opposition-controlled parliament last year, has been hiding inside the French Embassy, and demanded that Paris hand him over.
Last year, pro-government lawmakers stripped Guaido of legal immunity. He is being investigated for attempting to usurp power in the country. Guaido has denied seeking refuge in the French Embassy.
The opposition has been staging protest rallies in Venezuela, with Guaido calling on the military and police to join him. However, most of the army and law enforcement personnel remain loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, and there have been pro-government rallies as well.
Guaido is openly backed by the US as well as the majority of EU member states and South American countries, including Venezuela’s neighbors, Colombia and Brazil. Meanwhile, states like China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey continue to recognize Maduro as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
Maduro has repeatedly accused the US of plotting a coup against him. Last month, the nation’s security forces intercepted a group of armed dissidents, which included two former American Green Berets. The ex-soldiers testified that they were planning to topple the government while receiving direction from a private US security company, Silvercorp USA.
Source: RT NEWS