South Africa is against any attempts at “undue or unconstitutional change” of government in Venezuela, the country’s envoy to the UN Security council said.
“The Security Council should never be an instrument that validates unconstitutional changes of any Government,” Jerry Matjila said in a statement on late Saturday.
Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycott by the opposition.
On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself acting president.
U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Guaido as president of the country.
Maduro quickly shot back, cutting off diplomatic relations with Washington and giving U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.
He has repeatedly lashed out at the U.S., saying Washington is waging an economic war against him and his government amid a sweeping sanctions campaign.
The South African envoy noted that Venezuela held presidential elections on May 20, 2018, on the basis of its national laws governing such elections.
“It was on this basis that South Africa’s President, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, congratulated President Maduro following his inauguration for a second term as President,” Matjila said.
“Any grievances or disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner through the proper mechanisms and processes provided for in the constitution of Venezuela and its electoral laws, without external influence,” he added.
The envoy backed the statement made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Davos on Jan. 24 2019, where he urged a de-escalation of tensions to prevent violence.
Brazil and the Organization of American States recognized Guaido as Venezuela's leader prior to his formal announcement. Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay have followed suit while Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.
Several South American countries, Russia and Turkey have also expressed solidarity with Maduro.