Guaido calls for fresh protests after his deputy's arrest

Last Updated: Sat, May 11, 2019 06:00 hrs

[Venezuela], May 11 (ANI): Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido on Friday said that a countrywide protest will take place against his deputy Edgar Zambrano's arrest, terming it as an "unlawful incident."

"We are fighting a regime that armed the paramilitary groups, but this will not stop us. We will hold protests across the country," Anadolu News Agency quoted Guaido as saying.

On the orders of Venezuela's top court, Zambrano, vice-president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, was arrested on Wednesday by intelligence agencies for backing last month's failed coup d'etat against President Nicolas Maduro.

He is being held at Fuerte Tiuna military base in Caracas.

In response, Guaido hit out at the court's decision saying that nothing will stop the opposition from achieving free and fair polls and ousting Maduro from power.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called Zambrano's arrest as an "illegal act" and demanded his immediate release.

Meanwhile, three of the 10 Venezuelan opposition leaders, who were stripped of their parliamentary immunity by the country's top court, have taken refuge in foreign embassies in Caracas.

While Americo de Grazia and Mariela Magallanes have stationed themselves in the Italian embassy, Richard Blanco has taken shelter in the Argentine embassy.

The immunity of the 10 parliamentarians was revoked after the top court announced an investigation into conspiracy and treason of the lawmakers following the failed uprising against Maduro.

Venezuela is currently witnessing a political crisis, which is worsened by hyperinflation, blackouts, and an acute shortage of water and medicines.

Guaido had declared himself as the President of Venezuela during mass protests in January -- a move which was immediately backed by the US. He currently enjoys recognition as the official interim President of Venezuela by over 50 countries, including France, Japan, UK, the US amongst others.

Even though there have been recurring calls for Maduro to resign -- after calls to hold fresh elections failed -- the leftist leader continues to hold on to his post with the support of Venezuelan armed forces.

The US has also slapped multiple sanctions against Venezuela, in a bid to stifle economic support to the Maduro regime. It has provided humanitarian aid to Guaido's faction in its efforts to topple the embattled 56-year-old Maduro. (ANI)