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CARACAS: The Venezuelan prosecutor’s office said Thursday it had issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Juan Guaido and would ask for Interpol’s help in his apprehension.

Prosecutors were appointed “to issue an arrest warrant against him and to request a Red Notice from Interpol so that he pays for his crimes,” Prosecutor Tarek William Saab said.

Living in exile in the United States, Guaido was accused of treason, usurpation of functions, money laundering and association with a view to committing a crime, the official said.

The Venezuelan prosecutor said “Guaido used the resources of PDVSA (the public oil giant) to cause losses close to or greater than $19 billion,” adding that he relied on “revelations” provided to the press “by a federal court in the United States.”

The government says it had 27 different probes of Guaido under way but this is the first time it has sought his arrest.

The former president of the National Assembly, Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January 2019 after challenging the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro in 2018.

Guaido’s claim received support from dozens of countries including the United States, which had adopted a battery of sanctions against Caracas, including an embargo on Venezuelan oil.

Maduro has presided over oil-rich Venezuela’s decline into an economic basket case, with rampant inflation and shortages of food, medicine and such basics as soap. His government blames US sanctions for the country’s woes.

But Guaido failed to dislodge Maduro from power and has faded from the prominent role he once had, as leftist leaders more inclined to dialogue with Maduro took power in other countries of South America, such as Colombia.

Late last year the Venezuelan opposition formally ended his position as acting president.

Guaido called the new charges against him propaganda aimed at “persecuting the Venezuelan opposition physically and morally.”

“The regime is attacking again, with one of its favorite weapons, the kidnapping of justice.”

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