Incumbent asks how long Juan Guaidó will persist with his ‘virtual presidential term’
'Nicolás Maduro has issued a thinly veiled threat to the young opposition leader trying to force him from power, hinting that Juan Guaidó could soon be imprisoned as a result of his challenge.
Addressing a meeting of supporters on Monday night, Maduro questioned how long Guaidó – who declared himself Venezuela’s rightful interim president on 23 January – would persist with his “virtual term”.
“Until 2025, too?” Maduro said, referring to the six-year term he recently assumed to a storm of international condemnation. “Or until he ends up in jail by order of the supreme court of justice.”
Western diplomats have expressed surprise that, nearly two weeks after he threw the gauntlet down to the incumbent leader, Guaidó remained a free man. Many attributed that fact to warnings from his key backer, the United States, that any move against him would have consequences.
Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has said that violence against or intimidation of Guaidó or other opposition leaders “would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response”.
Venezuelan state media have intensified their campaign against Guaidó and his growing list of international backers in recent days, claiming that they risked plunging the country into war.
On Monday, a succession of European governments, including Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, recognised Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader after Maduro rebuffed their call for presidential elections.'
Read more: Maduro issues threat to jail Venezuela’s opposition leader