EU condemns Venezuela stripping Juan Guaido of immunity

The EU warned that an attempt to prosecute the opposition leader would lead to an "escalation of tensions" in Venezuela. Earlier this week, a body tied to President Nicolas Maduro paved the way for Guaido to be arrested.

The European Union staunchly condemned the decision to strip opposition leader and self-declared President Juan Guaido of his parliamentary immunity on Thursday, joining other world leaders in criticizing the move.

The Constituent Assembly, a body that was selected by acting President Nicolas Maduro, made the decision to remove his immunity earlier this week, paving the way for Guaido to be arrested and face trial.

What the EU said:

The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini made the statement on behalf of all 28 bloc members, saying:

  • "This decision constitutes a serious violation of the Venezuelan constitution, as well as the rule of law and separation of power."
  • The move undermines chances of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
  • A decision to prosecute Guaido would "only lead to further polarization and escalation of tensions in the country."

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Condemnation from world leaders

On Wednesday, the German government released its own statement to condemn the move, saying that Berlin does not recognize resolutions made by the Constituent Assembly.

Colombian President Ivan Duque also warned that any move by the Venezuelan government to arrest Guaido would spark a "firm multilateral response."

Some experts doubt whether Maduro's government would take the step of arresting Guaido, saying they might be first looking to see how the international community reacts to stripping him of immunity.

Crisis-stricken 

Guaido, who heads Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself the country's interim president in a surprise announcement in January. The move was recognized by over 50 countries, including the United States and several EU member states.

In the months since, Venezuela's economic and political crisis has continued to worsen — with a series of blackouts across the country recently leaving millions without water.

Despite pressure from abroad, Maduro's government continues to enjoy support from Russia, China and Turkey as well as the country's military.

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rs/jil (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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