Venezuelan army rejects 'self-proclaimed president'

Army defends Constitution, guarantor of national sovereignty, says defense minister

Venezuelan army rejects 'self-proclaimed president'

Venezuelan army will not accept an imposed president of the republic, the nation's defense minister said Wednesday, after an opposition leader declared himself as interim president.

"Despair and intolerance threaten the peace of the Nation. The soldiers of the homeland do not accept a president imposed in the shadow of obscure interests or self-proclaimed outside the law," Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in a statement on Twitter before demonstrations Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump also recognized the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of the country, marking the most significant escalation in the ongoing feud between Washington and Maduro. 

Guaido is the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, which Maduro stripped of its power and refuses to recognize amid continued international recognition.

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces, or FANB, defends the Venezuela's Constitution "and is the guarantor of national sovereignty," Lopez wrote. 

Maduro 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. 

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when the President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

A grand protest by opposition-led National Assembly will be held at 7.30 p.m. local time (0400GMT) calling for free and fair elections.

On Monday, 27 soldiers calling for an uprising against the government were arrested.