EU foreign ministers paved the way on Monday to impose new sanctions on Venezuela and called for a fresh election, following a presidential vote on May 20 that they criticised as having been neither free nor fair.
Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, was re-elected with 68 per cent of the votes cast in May in national polls denounced as undemocratic by the U.S., at least 12 Latin American countries and the EU.
“The elections there did not meet international standards. They were neither free, nor fair, nor transparent elections,’’ said German Minister for European Affairs, Michael Roth.
In a joint statement, EU ministers said the election and its outcome “lacked any credibility.’’
They cited a reduced electoral calendar, bans and obstacles imposed on opposition politicians, voter coercion and unbalanced media access, among other things.
“The EU calls for the holding of fresh presidential elections in accordance with internationally recognised democratic standards and the Venezuelan constitutional order,’’ the ministers agreed.
“The bloc will “act swiftly’’ to impose new sanctions.’’
The measures would impact individuals within Maduro’s regime, according to an EU diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, who noted that the president would likely be spared.
In January, the EU imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials close to Maduro.
The bloc had previously placed an arms embargo on Venezuela.
The ministers also agreed on Monday to increase support to the Venezuelan people, including those, who have fled to neighbouring countries.