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EU to ‘swiftly’ hit Venezuela with sanctions over election

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference with international media correspondents at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on February 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA

EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to “swiftly” adopt new sanctions against Venezuelan officials involved in Nicolas Maduro’s re-election, which they said “lacked any credibility”.

At a regular meeting in Brussels, ministers from the 28 EU states gave their approval for work to start so that the sanctions can be formally imposed in June.

The move comes after the European Union said last week it would consider fresh measures because the election failed to comply with “minimum international standards” and there were “numerous reported irregularities”.

“The EU will act swiftly, according to established procedures, with the aim of imposing additional targeted and reversible restrictive measures, that do not harm the Venezuelan population, whose plight the EU wishes to alleviate,” the ministers said in their formal agreement on the move.

“The election and its outcome lacked any credibility as the electoral process did not ensure the necessary guarantees for inclusive and democratic elections.”

The sanctions are set to be formally adopted at a meeting on June 25 in Luxembourg, EU sources said.

Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in Venezuela’s May election that was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.

Venezuela last week accused the EU of “prejudice” in its reaction to the vote, and said that the bloc had declined an invitation to send observers to the election.

The EU had warned in April that it would consider further sanctions against Venezuela of its own if the elections were not fair.

In January Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist, after hitting Caracas in November with an embargo on weapons and equipment that could be used for political repression.

An EU diplomat said around 10 more members of the Maduro regime would be added to the sanctions list, though exact details would not be finalised until late next month.


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