Morocco is the first Arab country to give its backing to the Venezuelan National Assembly President, Juan Guaido.
Morocco's Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, expressed his support for the self-proclaimed President during a telephone interview yesterday, praising Guaido for his actions, according to an official statement. The conversation reportedly came at the request of Guaido.
Guaido – a 35-year-old former student leader and head of Venezuela's opposition-run National Assembly (parliament) – has been at the forefront of a renewed attempt to force Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, from power. Last week Guaido declared himself Venezuela's rightful interim president, in a daring challenge to the incumbent.
According to the statement – which did not say whether Morocco had stopped recognising Maduro – Bourita said: "The Kingdom supports all measures taken to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Venezuelan people for democracy and change." The statement added that Guaido had expressed his willingness to "relaunch cooperation between Morocco and Venezuela and lift the obstacles that could affect its evolution".
Morocco's Ministry of Culture and Communication also reported that "the Venezuelan government, led by interim President Guaido, will work to restore diplomatic relations with Morocco, which were suspended under the regime of Nicolas Maduro".
Manuel Avendano, Foreign Affairs Consultant to the Venezuelan National Assembly – the only body controlled by the opposition – was quoted as saying: "Our prime objective is to re-establish relations with Morocco," meanwhile underlining that Guaido's government seeks to develop these relations to serve the interests of both countries.
Morocco's relations with Venezuela are historically tense because of the latter's position on the Western Sahara conflict – in which political-military group the Polisario Front has fought for the region's independence from Morocco. A representative of Caracas speaking at the UN compared the plight of Palestinians to Morocco's conflict with the Polisario Front. Venezuela considers the Western Sahara "occupied territory".