The State Department expressed support Saturday for an opposition party's bid to replace Nicolás Maduro as Venezuela's leader, declaring Maduro's government illegitimate.
A statement from the agency's deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, encouraged the Venezuelan General Assembly's president, Juan Guaidó, who on Friday told supporters outside the legislature he was prepared to invoke the country's constitution to remove Maduro and serve as interim president.
Maduro, who was recently elected to a second six-year term, has faced accusations of illegitimacy from the U.S. and other nations due to low voter turnout, boycotts and ballot irregularities that occurred during last year's election.
“It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government," Palladino said. "We support the National Assembly’s call for all Venezuelans to work together, peacefully, to restore constitutional government and build a better future.”
“The United States government will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” he added.
We call on all Venezuelans to uphold and respect the role of the National Assembly and for the security and armed forces to respect all protections the constitution affords to @JGuaido and the other members of the National Assembly. #Venezuela pic.twitter.com/HvC3Prnm9S— Robert Palladino (@StateDeputySPOX) January 12, 2019
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: 'Ludicrous' to think Trump is threat to US national security How not to withdraw from Syria Pompeo says US to host world summit focused on Iran next month MORE, who is in Abu Dhabi as part of a multicountry tour of the Middle East, told reporters Saturday that the U.S. would "work diligently" to see democracy restored in Venezuela, according to The Associated Press.
“The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will continue ... to work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country,” he said. “We are very hopeful that we can be force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that."
Vice President Pence wrote earlier this month on Twitter that the U.S. would not recognize the "sham" election that had led Maduro to a second term, while the Trump administration has imposed sanctions against members of Maduro's inner circle.
"The US does not recognize the illegitimate result of a stolen election," Pence tweeted. "We'll continue to stand w/ the people of Venezuela & against Maduro’s corrupt regime until freedom & democracy prevail in Venezuela!"
Dictator Maduro’s inauguration is a sham. The US does not recognize the illegitimate result of a stolen election. We'll continue to stand w/ the people of Venezuela & against Maduro’s corrupt regime until freedom & democracy prevail in Venezuela! #Libertad https://t.co/Pa1zUnu5eq— Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Giuliani says Trump team should be allowed to 'correct' Mueller report | Trump closer to declaring national emergency | Congress approves back pay for federal workers Latest US-China talks: Credit for good behavior, not much more Pence slams Maduro's inauguration in Venezuela as a 'sham' MORE (@VP) January 10, 2019