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UN chief monitoring Venezuela developments ‘with concern’

In addition to rival Presidents, the oil-rich South American country now has two men claiming to be Speaker of the National Assembly.

The latest turn occurred on Sunday when opposition leader Juan Guaidó was blocked from entering the National Assembly building in the capital, Caracas, during voting for a new Speaker.

Mr. Guaidó, the National Assembly leader who declared himself interim President last January, was hoping to be re-elected to the post, which is appointed annually.

While former ally Luis Parra declared himself Speaker, opposition members re-elected Mr. Guaidó in a separate session held that day at a newspaper office.

UN chief António Guterres has been following the developments “with concern”, according to a statement issued on Monday evening by his spokesperson.

The events “make urgently needed dialogue even more difficult to achieve,” it said.

The Secretary-General called on all sides to take immediate steps to lower tensions and to work towards a peaceful and sustainable solution to the political crisis.

The political situation coupled with economic meltdown has has forced more than 4.6 million Venezuelans to leave the country.

Numbers could reach 6.5 million this year, according to data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The two agencies launched a $1.35 billion appeal in November to meet the increasing humanitarian needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean, and to support the communities hosting them.

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