Venezuela President Maduro sworn in for second term

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Nicolás Maduro has been sworn in for a second term as Venezuela’s president, despite international criticism that his re-election was illegitimate.

The May 2018 polls were marred by an opposition boycott and vote-rigging claims.

The US and 13 other countries in the Americas said last week that they would not recognise Mr Maduro’s presidency.

The socialist leader, 56, said his new six-year term was a “step of peace for our country.”

Thousands of spectators gathered for the ceremony in Caracas, including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and president of Bolivia Evo Morales.

Security forces were stationed in the capital and other cities, as opposition groups called for pot-banging and the sounding of horns in protest during the ceremony.

“Venezuela is at the centre of a world war led by the United States imperialism and its satellite countries,” Mr Maduro said in a speech.

“There are problems in Venezuela, like in any other country. But we, Venezuelans, have to sort it out, without foreign intervention,” he added.

The Venezuelan leader also said the political right in Latin America has been “contaminated,” citing the rise to power of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, whom he termed a “fascist”.

The re-inauguration took place before the country’s Supreme Court instead of its opposition-run Congress, which has been stripped of its powers since Mr Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party lost control of it in 2016.

Minutes after Mr Maduro was sworn in, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo tweeted that he was cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela and immediately withdrawing his country’s diplomats from Caracas.

The Organization of American States also approved a resolution declaring his second term “illegitimate.”

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