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France's Macron throws support behind Venezuela opposition leader

media Crowds against Nicolas Maduro gather in Caracas, January 23 2019 Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

France’s Emmanuel Macron has given his backing to Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, saying last year's re-election of Nicolas Maduro was illegitimate, and that "Europe supports the restoration of democracy".

In a tweet posted Thursday by President Emmanuel Macron in both French and Spanish, he referred to the “illegitimate election of Nicolas Maduro in May 2018”.

On Wednesday, opposition leader Guaido, declared himself the country's interim president before a crowd of cheering supporters.

The 35 year-old won declarations of support from across the world, including Britain and the United States; a move that was met with fury by Maduro.

The former president vowed to cut diplomatic ties with Washington and gave all US diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave the country, adding Venezuela has dignity.

But the US ignored the order claiming it no longer sees Maduro as wielding any authority.

Guaido tweeted that he had also received the "full support" of Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, to whom he expressed the struggle of the Venezuelan people to bring about a transition of power and hold free elections.”

One of the European Union’s most senior lawmakers, David McAllister, a German conservative and chair of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in a statement that “Maduro has lost any legitimacy to lead his country. He needs to step aside.”

He added that “the national assembly as the legitimate, democratically elected institution must lead the transition towards a full restitution of democracy in Venezuela.”

But others remain steadfast in their backing of Maduro, with both Turkey and Russia confirming their on-going support.

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