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VENEZUELAN leader Nicolas Maduro ruled out new presidential elections today as he called on the international community to prevent a US-instigated civil war from erupting in the country.
In a televised address, the president spoke of the strength of revolutionary heroes Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez as he reminded Venezuelans of the country’s past struggles for independence.
Mr Maduro reaffirmed his commitment to dialogue with opposition forces but warned against the prospect of a foreign invasion, describing the calls from supporters of self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido as dangerous and having the potential to ignite a bloody civil war.
“Those who march with the US flag asking for military intervention in their own country have no idea what they’re asking for. They have no idea of the damage they will bring,” he said.
The Bolivarian leader called on the international community to prevent war as Washington refuses to rule out an invasion to topple his government.
Fears of armed conflict were raised when hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton was photograhed holding a notepad with “5,000 troops to Colombia” scrawled across it and US President Donald Trump admitted that military intervention was “an option.”
Mr Maduro said: “I want to ask the world for the highest level of solidarity to create a powerful movement against the threats of war from the US.”
He has come under pressure to call new elections despite having won a second term as president less than a year ago, when he received nearly 68 per cent of the vote in a poll that international observers deemed fair and transparent.
He refused to bow to an ultimatum issued by a small group of European countries, insisting: “There is no dictatorship in Venezuela, nor will there be.”
Mr Maduro warned that US intervention is nothing to do with democracy but is, in fact, a bid to take control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves — the largest in the world.
Mr Bolton admitted that the Trump administration is “in conversation” with US oil companies in Venezuela about the future privatisation of state-owned PDVSA.
In a televised interview, he said it would “make a big difference to the US economically” if its companies could invest in and produce oil in Venezuela.
Guaido spokesman Carlos Vecchio said yesterday that if his boss’s coup attempt succeeded, the new government would open up Venezuela’s oil sector to private companies.
“The majority of the oil production that we want to increase will be with the private sector,” he comfirmed.
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