01/23/2019 18:41 EST | Updated 01/23/2019 18:41 EST

Canada Backs Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaido As Interim President

Canada accused Nicolas Maduro of seizing power through fraudulent elections last May.

Fernando Llano/CP
Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress, speaks to supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 23, 2019.

OTTAWA — Canada joined several other countries in the Americas Wednesday in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

A statement from the Lima Group, which includes Canada and 10 Central and South American nations, expressed full support for Guaido.

The move came as Guaido declared himself interim president, just two weeks after Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a contested second term.

Canada has accused Maduro of seizing power through fraudulent, anti-democratic elections in May of last year.

Marcelo Perez Del Carpio/Getty Images
Venezuelans gather for a mass rally against Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela on Jan. 23, 2019.

Earlier this month it rejected the legitimacy of Maduro's new presidential term, calling on him to immediately cede power to the democratically elected National Assembly until new elections are held.

Canada said the suffering of Venezuelans would only worsen should Maduro continue to cling to power.

The United States has also endorsed Guaido and called on Maduro to step down.

The Lima Group said Wednesday it supports a process of democratic transition in Venezuela, including new, fair elections involving all political players.

The group also called for the rule of law and maintenance of social peace while the transition takes place.

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