Israel recognises Venezuela opposition leader as president

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel on Sunday officially recognised Venezuela's National Assembly chief Juan Guaido as president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, following close ally Washington in endorsing the opposition leader.

Netanyahu announced in an online video that Israel was joining the United States, Canada and a host of South American countries "in recognising the new leadership in Venezuela".

Guaido proclaimed himself acting president of Venezuela on Wednesday during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro.

Since then, the United States, Canada and many South American countries including Brazil and Colombia have backed his self-proclamation.

Maduro rejected demands by European countries to call elections within eight days in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Nations including France, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany warned they would recognise Guaido as president unless there are snap polls.

The US has pressed all countries to "stand with the forces of freedom" in Venezuela, but key backers such as Russia have stuck with the embattled leader.

Desperate protesters have taken to the streets in Venezuela over a crisis that has seen two million flee shortages of basic food and medicine.

Some 26 people have been killed and more than 350 people have been detained in clashes this week between anti-Maduro activists and security forces, the UN said.