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Venezuela's Maduro defends ‘legitimacy’ of government amid mounting opposition

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference with international media correspondents at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on December 12, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the “legitimacy” of his government amid mounting opposition against his bid for a second six-year term.

"Legitimacy has been given to us by the people with their vote. To those who hope to break our will, make no mistake. Venezuela will be respected!" Maduro said in a tweet.

Maduro made the remarks a day after Venezuela’s opposition-led Congress denounced his presidency as illegitimate and called on the country’s military to support efforts to “restore democracy” in the South American country.

The Venezuelan National Assembly accused the socialist leader of “usurping presidency,” and pledged to confront Maduro’s bid for assuming the post ahead of his inauguration ceremony on January 10.

Venezuela’s socialist party has announced that Maduro will be sworn in before the Supreme Court for a second six-year term on Thursday.

Maduro was re-elected in May after an early election called by the ruling Constituent Assembly, which faced accusations of irregularities as well as an opposition boycott.

Several of Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors as well as the European Union joined voices with Maduro’s opponents at the time and said they would not recognize the results of the election.

On Friday, foreign ministers from a bloc of 14 Latin American countries -- the so-called Lima Group -- announced after a meeting in the Peruvian capital Lima that their governments would not recognize Maduro as president if he attempted to remain in office, calling on the 56-year-old to hand over power to the National Assembly.

Caracas rejected the demand and accused the so-called Lima Group of “encouraging a coup d’etat” on instructions from the United States.

The Latin American country has been facing mounting pressure from regional countries and the US, which has targeted Caracas with economic sanctions since 2014 over alleged human rights abuses and threats to its national security.

A massive inflation rate and a shortage of basic commodities such as foodstuffs and medicine have reportedly forced an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans to emigrate.

The Maduro government blames the economic crisis on the opposition and the US sanctions. The opposition says Maduro’s mismanagement is to blame.

Back in August, Maduro survived an assassination attempt during a military parade in Caracas. He was unharmed while seven Venezuelan soldiers sustained injuries in the incident. Maduro has accused the US and Colombia of being responsible for the attack.

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