By Muhammed Emin Canik
BUENOS AIRES (AA) – Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez announced Thursday that his country will not recognize Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s elected president.
Benitez said the country will close its embassy in Venezuela and withdraw all of its diplomats.
In addition, Venezuelan diplomats in Paraguay will be deported, he said.
Paraguay’s move came immediately after Maduro was sworn-in on Thursday for a second six-year term following elections it perceives to be fraudulent.
Maduro first took office in 2013 after his predecessor Hugo Chavez died and will govern Venezuela until 2025.
Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said on Twitter that Paraguay decided to cut diplomatic relations with Venezuela “in defense of democracy”.
Earlier, the Lima Group of Latin American countries said they will not recognize Maduro’s presidency.
The group includes Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Peru.
The only member of the group that did not follow suit was Mexico, which was represented by its commercial attaché in Caracas.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) agreed Thursday “to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term,” the bloc said in a statement.
The resolution was approved with 19 votes in favor, six against, eight abstentions and one absent, the statement added.