ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s government defended its ally President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela on Tuesday, saying opposition calls for a military uprising against him threatened the constitutional order.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido urged the military to help oust Maduro and violence broke out at protests in a new crisis point after years of chaos and divisions.
The United States is among some 50 countries recognising Guaido as Venezuela’s president and has imposed sanctions to try and dislodge Maduro whom they say rigged an election last year.
But Turkey is among nations, including China and Russia, backing Maduro since Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January.
President Tayyip Erdogan condemned what he said was a coup attempt, adding that the whole world should respect the democratic choices of Venezuelans.
“Those who are in an effort to appoint a postmodern colonial governor to Venezuela, where the President was appointed by elections and where the people rule, should know that only democratic elections can determine how a country is governed,” he tweeted.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey always sides with the people of Venezuela and favoured dialogue.
“We are worried about reports that there are certain attempts against the constitutional order in Venezuela. We are against anti-democratic methods to change legitimate governments,” he said in a tweet.
Turkey has a long history of coups, most recently a failed putsch in 2016, thwarted by Erdogan supporters who took to the streets to fight the putschists. About 250 people were killed.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since then and widespread arrests are still routine.
Authorities have also suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.
Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Andrew Cawthorne