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Venezuela plunges into new phase of political crisis

Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, posted a video online urging supporters to take to the streets to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Guaido posted an online video in which he appeared to be surrounded by dozens of armed troops near a military base in Caracas.

“The time is now,” Guaido said. “We are going to achieve freedom and democracy in Venezuela,” he added.

"Today it is clear to us that the Armed Forces are with the people and not with the dictator,” Guaido addressed demonstrators in Caracas.

Civilian supporters and some soldiers gathered at the airbase where troops loyal to Maduro fired teargas rounds, prompting a brief exchange of gunfire.

Footage also showed clashes between government forces and demonstrators where a National Guard vehicle drove into a crowd of anti-Maduro protesters.

Senior government officials have rejected the attempted coup and called on Venezuelans to march to towards the Miraflores preisdential palace to protect the country from a far right, US backed coup. Thousands of Venezuelans marched to the palace and attended a rally led by the head of the National Consistent Assembly Diosdado.

Maduro said he has spoken with military leaders who have shown him their loyalty.  Maduro wrote on Twitter, “nerves of steel! I call for maximum popular mobilisation to assure the victory of peace. We will win!”

Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela’s defense minister said that the military’s top ranks remained “loyal to the constitution.”

Venezuela lurched into crisis after Guaido declared himself as the interim president in January. Trump recognised Guaido as the country’s leader shortly after he took an oath before his supporters, alongside other Latin American countries and 20 European countries.

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