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US sanctions Venezuelans heading parliamentary polls

The US on Friday slapped sanctions on Venezuela's National Electoral Council officials, including its president Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre, ahead of National Assembly elections on Dec. 6.

The move is taken to respond to President Nicolas Maduro's "attempts to corrupt democratic elections" in the country, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Today, the United States is sanctioning, under Executive Order 13692, David Eugenio de Lima Salas, Reinaldo Enrique Muñoz Pedroza, Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre, and Jose Luis Gutierrez Parra in light of their involvement in Maduro’s efforts to manipulate the Venezuelan National Assembly and restructure the National Electoral Council, moves that rob the Venezuelan people of free and fair elections and destroy their democratic institutions," he said.

The secretary claimed that "the work of these individuals to help Maduro subvert the Venezuelan people’s access to democratic institutions and appoint a new puppet National Electoral Council has undermined the integrity of the National Assembly, the only remaining legitimately democratic institution in Venezuela."

Voicing support for the opposition leader Juan Guaido, Pompeo said Washington stands with him "in his effort to restore a democratic Venezuela."

Pompeo also criticized Thursday Maduro's decision to pardon more than 100 political opponents ahead of parliamentary elections, calling it a "farce."

He went on to say that conditions for free and fair elections "do not exist" in Venezuela and the release of political prisoners "does not change that."

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