LONDON - France, Austria, Sweden and Denmark have joined Britain and Spain in recognising Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the South American country.

The coordinated move from the major European nations came after the expiry of an eight-day deadline they set last weekend for President Nicolas Maduro to call a new presidential vote.

In a Twitter post on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country recognises Guaido as an "acting president to implement an electoral process".

Sebastian Kurtz, Austria's chancellor, also tweeted that Guaido can rely on Austria's "full support in his efforts to re-establish democracy in Venezuela".

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Swedish radio that Stockholm supports and considers Guaido as "a legitimate and interim president" given Maduro's refusal to hold a snap election.

"Denmark recognises the President of the National Assembly ... until new free and democratic elections take place," Anders Samuelsen, the country's foreign minister, tweeted ahead of a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels.

Spain, UK recognise Guaido as acting president


Spain and the United Kingdom have recognised Juan Guaido as acting leader of Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro rejected an ultimatum by European countries to call snap elections.

"The Spanish government announces that it officially recognises Venezuela's National Assembly president, Mr Guaido Marquez, as acting president of Venezuela," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters on Monday, calling on Guaido to hold a new presidential election quickly.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain's foreign secretary, said the UK backs Guaido as "interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held".

In a Twitter post on Monday, Hunt said he hoped the move will help end Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.

Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.

On January 23, Juan Guaido , the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.

Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in before his supporters, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country's leader. In response, Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States and gave the American diplomats in the country 72 hours to leave.

Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.

Spain, France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Austria have said if Maduro does not call snap elections they will recognise Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president.

The eight-day deadline ran out on Sunday.

France also responded to Maduro's refusal to hold elections, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian telling radio France Inter that Paris will "now take all necessary" measures.

He did not elaborate.

President Donald Trump said that sending the military to Venezuela was "an option" and that he had turned down President Nicolas Maduro's request for a meeting.

"Certainly it's something that's on the - it's an option," Trump said in an interview broadcast on Sunday on the CBS "Face the Nation" programme. "Well [Nicolas Maduro] has requested a meeting and I have turned it down because we're very far along in the process."


'International contact group'


European and Latin American countries that form an "international contact group" hoping to end Venezuela's political crisis will hold their first meeting in Montevideo on Thursday, the joint hosts announced Sunday.

The meeting will be at ministerial level, said a statement from EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

"The IGC aims at contributing to create conditions for a political and peaceful process to emerge, enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future, through the holding of free, transparent and credible elections, in line with the country's Constitution," said the statement.

The contact group comprises the EU and eight of its member states - France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom - and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.


Maduro defiant after military defections; proposes new parliamentary elections


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has remained defiant following the defections of at least two military officials, while declaring his support for fresh parliamentary elections.

In a speech to tens of thousands of supporters on Saturday, Maduro declared that he supports the National Assembly's proposal, saying, "Let's go for elections".

Elections for the opposition-controlled National Assembly are not supposed to take place again until 2020.

In the same speech, the president denounced the interventionist policy of the United States and the administration of President Donald Trump.

"A wave of global conciousness is rising in the face of daily threats against the White House warmongers," Maduro said.

Maduro and opposition leader, Juan Guaido are holding competing rallies in capital Caracas on Saturday, as they tried to rally support on their side.

Earlier on Saturday, a high-ranking Venezuelan air force official, General Francisco Yanez, withdrew his support of Maduro, and recognised Guaido as interim head-of-state.

Later in the day, another military officer in active service, Lieutenant Colonel Andres Eloy Volcan, also declared his support of Guaido and urged other military officers to follow him and "restore democracy.

But Maduro dismissed the call saying, "The Bolivarian armed forces are more loyal than ever under my command."

He insisted that he was the rightful president of Venezuela and that he would continue to govern.


Army colonel recognises Guaido as president


Another military officer has defected from the government of President Nicolas Maduro and recognised opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as president.

Andres Eloy Volcan, an active lieutenant colonel of the armed forces, urged his fellow military officers to follow him and "restore democracy.

Volcan made the statement during an appearance in Aragua, just outside of the capital, Caracas. A video of the statement was posted on social media.


Demonstrators in Caracas call on Maduro to step down


Demonstators have taken to the streets of Caracas to renew their call for President Nicolas Maduro to resign.

Luisa Blanco, 51, a resident of a Caracas suburb, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that she can "smell the hope" that Maduro would resign.

"Maduro needs to leave. We cannot go on with so much misery. We are going to die of hunger," she said.

In Chacaito, one of the starting points of the demonstration in the Venezuela capital, Yurvis Urdaneta, 28, said he likes opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"He seems to be a nice young man. I think he wants to do it right. But we have also been wrong in the past, and we have been tricked before. So I don't know wha is going to happen."

There are also demonstations in other parts on the country, including major cities of Maracaibo and Barquisimento.


Venezuelan general recognises opposition leader Guaido as president: Twitter video


A high-ranking Venezuelan air force general said he had disavowed President Nicolas Maduro and now recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim head-of-state, according to a video circulating on Twitter on Saturday.

In the video, General Francisco Yanez, a member of the air force's high command, called on other members of the military to defect. He also reportedly claimed that 90 percent of the armed forces no longer support Maduro.

The high command's web page lists Yanez, along with a photo, as the air force's head of strategic planning.

On its Twitter account, the high command of the military accused the general of treason.

Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognise Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on Jan. 23.

Al Jazeera's Latin America editor Lucia Newman, reporting from Caracas, said the defection of the first active general is "another blow" to the Maduro administration.

"Juan Guaido has been publicly appealing to the armed forces to defect, to abandon Nicolas Maduro, whose main support comes from the military. Without it, he would have a difficult time to stay in power."

But the question now is whether Yanez commands a number of troops, and orders members of the armed forces to follow him, our correspondent said.