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Uprising in Venezuela: Could opposition leader Guaido topple President Maduro?

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Uprising in Venezuela Could opposition leader Guaido topple President Maduro

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido appeared alongside armed, uniformed men on Tuesday in his strongest call yet to the military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro, a day before planned mass protests aimed at toppling the socialist leader.

In the more than three months since Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, citing fraudulent elections, Maduro has so far kept a grip on the levers of power including the military and security forces.

Guaido says Maduro must step aside for a transitional government to organize new elections. Maduro has resisted calls for an early vote or that he leave power early before his six-year second term ends in 2025.


READ MORE:
Military truck runs over protesters in Venezuela; Trump threatens Cuban embargo if its troops don’t quit

Below are some of the factors that could decide who prevails:

The military

Venezuela has a long history of military rebellions and coups, notably the 1958 overthrow of dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez, and the failed attempt by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, to take office by force in a 1992 army coup. After being elected to office, Chavez himself survived a putsch a decade later.

Now Guaido is seeking a widespread army uprising against Maduro, who has overseen a 50 percent collapse in the economy and shortages of food and medicine that have led more than 3 million Venezuelans to leave the country since he took office in 2013.

Although the young opposition leader was accompanied at a rally in Caracas on Tuesday by several dozen armed troops, it did not immediately appear that he had won much support from the country’s 200,000-strong armed forces, and 25 of the soldiers with him later sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy.

WARNING: This video contains disturbing images not suitable for all viewers. Discretion is advised. Military vehicle seen running over protesters in Caracas





Since declaring himself interim president in January, Guaido has repeatedly made overtures to the military, offering an amnesty from prosecutions if they join him, with only marginal success.

Several hundred soldiers have defected and left the country for Brazil or Colombia in recent weeks but not in numbers high enough to threaten Maduro’s grip.

One risk is that a military split leads to prolonged violence among different armed factions.


READ MORE:
Chaos in the streets as Venezuela’s Guaido launches military uprising to oust Maduro

Negotiated Transition

Maduro’s offer of negotiations with Guaido, moderated by the Vatican, Mexico or Uruguay, has been rejected by the opposition, which says previous rounds of talks allowed the government to stall for time without making any real concessions.

While some 50 nations, including the United States, have declared support for Guaido, Maduro still has powerful backers, notably Russia and China. Others allies include Cuba, Iran and Turkey.

U.S. national security advisor John Bolton has called on Russia to drop its support for Maduro, which includes military advisers. While some believe Moscow could negotiate an exit and safe passage out of Venezuela for the president, there are few signs Putin is willing to give up on the government that gives him most geo-political clout in the Americas.

WATCH: Venezuela: Guaido supporters sing national anthem in downtown Caracas





U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Tuesday that Maduro was prepared to leave Venezuela on Tuesday morning but reversed his plan after Russia said he should stay.

Bolton said on Tuesday the opposition had won commitments from leading members of Maduro’s administration that the president had to go, but there was no public sign of high-level splits within the government that could lead to a transition.


READ MORE:
Why Russia wants Nicolas Maduro to stay in charge of Venezuela

U.S.-Backed Military OPS

Erik Prince – the founder of private security firm Blackwater and a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump – has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Maduro, sources told Reuters.

Prince’s pitch will only add to speculation that the United States, while unlikely to invade Venezuela to bring down Maduro, might resort to irregular military action, such as the kind of intelligence service-backed covert operations used by Washington a number of times in 20th-century Latin America.

WATCH: U.S. wants ‘peaceful transfer’ of power in Venezuela : Bolton





A person familiar with the Trump administration’s thinking said the White House would not support such a plan.

Although some former Venezuelan security officials opposed to Maduro are now based in Colombia and have claimed involvement in a drone attack on the president last year, there is little evidence that such operations are being prepared at the moment.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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