UN chief appeals to all sides in Venezuela to avoid violence

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appealed to all sides in Venezuela to avoid violence after self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro’s government denounced an attempted coup by a small group of soldiers but Guaido vowed there was “no turning back” in the bid to seize power as rioting broke out outside an army base in Caracas.

Guterres “urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint, and he appeals to all stakeholders to avoid any violence and take immediate steps to restore calm,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The United Nations was in contact with both sides, said the spokesman adding that it was “not for the secretary general to give support for one party or another.”

He stressed that the focus of the UN chief was to “ensure that everything is done to avoid violence and that calm be restored.”

Guterres has repeatedly called for dialogue to end the political standoff in Venezuela that has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis affecting one in four Venezuelans, according to UN figures.

The United States is among some 50 countries that recognize Guaido, the opposition leader who declared himself interim president in January in a bid to replace Maduro, whom he has branded as illegitimate.

Maduro has maintained control with support from the military, Russia, and China. Russia last month sent troops to Caracas, raising tensions between Washington and Moscow.

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