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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido recognised as president by UK court

The UK Government has “unequivocally recognised” an opposition leader as president of Venezuela – in a landmark court ruling following a dispute over £800 million of gold.
Today the High Court said that Juan Guaido was recognised as head of state, over incumbent President Nicolas Maduro.
Under-fire Maduro – who became President following the 2013 death of Hugo Chavez – has long been accused of vote rigging in the country’s 2018 election.
He has overseen a catastrophic collapse of the Venezuelan economy, and his challengers have rubbished his claim to the presidency.
In January last year Guaido declared himself the true president of Venezuela – and a month later secured the backing of the UK’s then-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The matter came to a head after both parties put in rival claims for £800 million of gold bullion – being kept at the Bank of England – to help steer the country through the coronavirus crisis.
The South American country’s central bank took legal action to release the gold – which it wants to sell to buy essential equipment in the fight against Covid-19.
The bank says it has agreed to transfer the funds to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to buy «healthcare equipment, medicines and basic foodstuffs».
But the Bank of England said it was «caught in the middle» of rival claims to the gold – and the High Court was ordered to rule on whether the UK recognised Guaido or Maduro.
Maduro’s faction say they intend to appeal – meaning the dispute could drag on for many more months.
There has been widespread unrest in Venezuela, with citizens taking to the streets in their hundreds of thousands in support of Guaido last year.
Today High Court judge Mr Justice Teare said: «Her Majesty’s Government does recognise Mr Guaido in the capacity of the constitutional interim president of Venezuela and, it must follow, does not recognise Mr Maduro as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela.
«Whatever the basis for the recognition, Her Majesty’s Government has unequivocally recognised Mr Guaido as president of Venezuela.
«It necessarily follows that Her Majesty’s Government no longer recognises Mr Maduro as president of Venezuela… there is no room for recognition of Mr Guaido as de jure president and of Mr Maduro as de facto president.»

The rival factions

His leadership has been marred by widespread allegations of corruption and unrest, with the country’s economy in freefall.
In 2018 Maduro was re-elected in a poll widely held to have been fixed, after opposition parties pulled out.
Juan Guaido declared himself president in the National Assembly in January last year, and so far around 60 countries have said they recognise him as leader.
He attempted to lead a military uprising in April last year, but failed in efforts to overthrow the Maduro government.
Maduro’s supporters brand Guaido an American stooge backed by the CIA because of Venezuela’s oil wealth.

His lawyers say he must therefore be regarded by the High Court «as the president of Venezuela».
Maduro was sworn in for a second term last year amid claims of vote-rigging in the 2018 election, which was boycotted by opposition parties.
Guaido declared himself acting president in January last year and, a month later, then-foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK recognised Guaido as «the constitutional interim president of Venezuela until credible presidential elections can be held».
Andrew Fulton, representing the «Guaido board» of the BCV, said the UK Government «has decided to recognise Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela and has denounced the ‘illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime»‘.
He added: «In the courts of other countries whose governments have chosen to take a different stance to the UK on the legitimacy of Mr Maduro, the members of the Maduro board may enjoy a more sympathetic reception to their assertions that they are entitled to speak for the BCV.
«In England, however, those claims are doomed.»
Sarosh Zaiwalla, representing the Maduro faction, said in a statement that the judgment «entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground» in Venezuela.
He said: «None of the board members of the so-called ‘ad hoc administrative board’ of BCV appointed by Guaido have been resident in Venezuela for some years now.
«Mr Maduro’s government is in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions, and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.»
Mr Zaiwalla added: «This outcome will now delay matters further, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people whose lives are at risk.»
Fuente: Mirror

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