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Erdogan congratulates fellow strongman Maduro over Venezuela election win

Erdogan shakes hands with longtime friend Maduro after a press conference in 2017 [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 May, 2018

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Turkey's president congratulated Venezuela's newly re-elected authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro, becoming only the second leader to do so after Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has congratulated his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on winning a new term in office, the Turkish presidency said Wednesday, after an election that was widely condemned by the international community.

Erdogan - along with Russian President Vladimir Putin - is among very few prominent world leaders to have congratulated Maduro on his victory in a poll that the US has denounced as a "sham".

He phoned Maduro during the night to pass on his congratulations, a Turkish presidential source was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu news agency.

Erdogan, who himself faces elections at home on 24 June, also expressed his determination to develop relations between Turkey and Venezuela in all areas, the report added.

The US has already tightened sanctions against Venezuela after the poll, which leftist populist Maduro won with 68 percent of the vote but was boycotted by the main opposition parties.
 
The polls was also further blemished by record abstention rate.

In response Caracas ordered the expulsion of the top two US diplomats in Venezuela, charging it was the victim of a "political and financial lynching".

The EU said it was also weighing new sanctions after the election was marred by "irregularities" and failed to meet international standards.

The 14 countries of the Lima Group - which includes Argentina, Brazil and Canada - are also refusing to recognise the election result.

But at a time of growing strains between Turkey and the West, Erdogan and Maduro have been forging an increasingly strong alliance.

Maduro hailed a "new era" in relations with Turkey during a visit to Ankara in October, saying both countries believed in a different, multi-polar world.

Maduro, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause, was also a surprise non-Muslim guest at a summit of Islamic leaders organised by Erdogan in December 2017 to denounce the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Earlier this month, Maduro has been seen wearing a medieval hat and a giant ring from the popular Turkish historical television drama Dirilis Ertugrul, which narrates the popular story about the origins of the Ottoman Empire.

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