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Italy warns against ‘another Libya’ if Venezuela is attacked

ITALY broke ranks with the EU on Thursday night, declaring that it “does not recognise the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido” in Venezuela.

The declaration came after the European Parliament voted to recognise Mr Guaido, an MP of the Popular Will party who declared himself president of Venezuela on January 23 despite not having participated in any election.

Italy’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Manlio di Stefano of the Five Star movement, said Rome was “totally against” a group of countries “determining the internal policies” of a sovereign state: “This is called the principle of non-intervention and is enshrined by the United Nations.”

After the United States recognised Mr Guaido as president instead of Venezuela’s elected leader Nicolas Maduro, a range of Latin American and EU countries followed suit, although the UN security council declined to endorse his claim on Thursday.

Venezuela’s legitimate government continues to be recognised by a majority of countries internationally, including some prominent US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia which have come out against the attempted coup.

Mr di Stefano warned that the US looked to be gearing up for war with Venezuela and said: “This same mistake was made in Libya, and everyone today recognises it. We must prevent the same thing happening in Venezuela.”

Italy was one of the few EU countries to express reservations about the Nato intervention in support of jihadist rebels in Libya in 2010, which resulted in their overthrow of the Muammar Gadaffi government and a collapse into civil war which has lasted ever since.

The foreign minister’s remarks follow Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s warning last week that it was not “opportune to rush to recognise investitures [like Mr Guaido’s] that have not gone through an electoral process.”

Mr Guaido, who trained in the Governance and Political management programme in the United States and took part in violent confrontations with the police in the 2014 guarimbas riots aimed at toppling Venezuela’s elected government, claimed yesterday that security forces had been threatening his family.

A day earlier he claimed to have been holding secret meetings with military officers aimed at convincing the army to overthrow the president.

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