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The IMF stands by to help Venezuela once it's decided who's in charge

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP
The IMF stands by to help Venezuela once it's decided who's in charge
Copyright  Reuters   -  

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered an expansion of the civil militia.

The National Bolivarian Militia was founded by his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, to assist the armed forces in the defence of his regime from external and domestic attacks.

Maduro still commands considerable support among the population and is refusing to relinquish power in the crisis-torn South American nation.

His chief rival is self-declared leader Juan Guaido, who has already been recognised by around 50 nations including the US.

Guaido has embarked on an international campaign to topple socialist president Nicolas Maduro amid deepening social unrest in the country plagued by nearly a month of power outages.

He declared himself Venezuela's interim president in January and vowed to overthrow Maduro.

Over the weekend Guaido visited Zulia state where he vowed to assist people amid food, water and power shortages.

Who is in charge?

The IMF says it is ready to help Venezuela but can do nothing until its membership decides who is officially in charge of the crisis-torn South American nation.

"We can only be guided by the membership," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told a news conference. "So it's not a question of us deciding, it has to be a large majority of the membership actually recognising diplomatically the authorities that they regard as legitimate."

Venezuela's economic meltdown has been accelerated by a worldwide drop in the price of oil, its chief export.