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Maduro's Venezuela a 'fully entrenched dictatorship': Canada
[OTTAWA] Canada on Thursday slammed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's new term in office as marking the country's transformation into a "fully entrenched dictatorship."
"Today, Nicolas Maduro's regime loses any remaining appearance of legitimacy," Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
"Having seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections held on May 20, 2018, the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship.
"The suffering of Venezuelans will only worsen should he continue to illegitimately cling to power."
Canada, along with allies, has repeatedly criticised the elections that returned Mr Maduro to office as unfair, and has imposed targeted sanctions against 70 regime officials in response.
Together with most members of the Lima Group, which is made up of Latin American countries and Canada, Ottawa said it "rejects the legitimacy" of Mr Maduro's new presidential term and called on him to "immediately cede power" to the nation's parliament until new elections can be held, and following the release of political prisoners.
"Canadians stand with the people of Venezuela and their desire to restore democracy and human rights in Venezuela," said Freeland.
Mr Maduro, the handpicked successor of the late leftist strongman Hugo Chavez, was re-elected in polls boycotted by the majority of the opposition and dismissed as a fraud by the United States, European Union and Organization of American States.
His first term saw an exodus of millions of people escaping an economic meltdown which has plunged much of the oil-rich country's population into poverty, suffering desperate shortages of basic foods and medicines.
Mr Maduro's inauguration took place in the Supreme Court rather than the sidelined, opposition-controlled parliament, which has refused to recognise him.