09:54 GMT24 February 2020
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela has reiterated in a declaration on the results of its second ministerial meeting that the ongoing crisis in the South American country could only be resolved through a peaceful democratic process, excluding the use of force.

    "The ICG reaffirms that the multiple crisis affecting Venezuela can only have a political, peaceful, democratic and Venezuelan-owned solution, excluding the use of force, through the holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections as soon as possible", the ministerial declaration, published by European Union External Action on Thursday, read.

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    The group continued by reiterating its commitment to assisting the mobilization of humanitarian aid to Venezuela. It also praised the UN-led efforts to deliver aid to Venezuela and measures taken by regional states to accommodate Venezuelan migrants.

    In addition, the ICG hailed the European Union for providing 50 million euros ($56 million) in assistance to Venezuelans.

    "The group notes steps taken to facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations and calls for further actions to enable the establishment of additional humanitarian organisations and ensuring the unfettered access to vulnerable groups and areas around the country", the declaration pointed out.

    Moreover, the ICG suggested that Venezuelan parties should reach an agreement on the basis of a road map for holding a new presidential election in order to resolve the current crisis.

    "The solution to the crisis lies in giving the voice back to the people in democratic elections, in line with international standards. According to the findings and conclusions of the working group on electoral process, the conduct of such electoral process towards new presidential elections should include an agreement amongst all relevant actors on the basis of an agreed roadmap", the group said in a ministerial declaration on the results of its meeting in Quito on Thursday.

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    In parcticular, the ICG suggested that the plan should enable re-institutionalization of "key state institutions", giving guarantees to all politicians and parties that they would be allowed to run in the elections; voter register update; and changing electoral legislation to allow international observers monitor the process.

    "The ICG, if requested, is ready to assist in a future electoral process through confidence-building measures such as the deployment of and support to election observation missions, international auditing of the electoral ICT systems and/or a revised voter register, and any other support actions that would be deemed necessary to implement an agreement leading to free, credible and transparent elections", the declaration argued.

    The ICG comprises eight EU member states and four Latin American nations. It was formed in order to facilitate the settlement of the political and economic crises in Venezuela and held its first meeting in Montevideo on 7 February.

    Tensions in Venezuela escalated on 23 January, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself an "interim president", disputing President Nicolas Maduro's re-election last year. While the United States has openly backed Guaido, the European Union did not issue a joint statement following suit because the motion was vetoed by Italy, according to a diplomatic source. Despite this, however, many European countries have individually voiced their support for the Venezuelan opposition leader.

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    Russia, China, Mexico, among other nations, voiced support for constitutionally elected Maduro, who, in turn, accused Washington of orchestrating an attempted coup with Guaido's help.

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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (578)

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    solution, road map, elections, European Union External Action, International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela, Venezuela
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