United States hits Venezuelan president with sanctions

A voter casts a ballot during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas Venezuela

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters.

In addition to illegally claiming all lawmaking duties from the National Assembly, Maduro-apparently exhausted of being accused of violating the nation's constitution-has tasked the ANC with drafting a new constitution friendlier to his regime.

The court reversed the ruling three days later, but for the opposition the message was clear - Venezuela's democratic principles were crumbling and the highest legal body in the country could no longer be trusted.

Pence reminded Maduro the USA position that he is "personally responsible" for the health and safety of opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, who were dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night earlier this week and taken to military prison.

"We have chose to form the Socialist Parliamentary Bloc, inspired by the necessity to contribute solutions required by the country's great problems", said Assemblyman Eustoquio Contreras in a speech during a legislative session.

Almost five months of demonstrations failed to stop Maduro from carrying out the weekend election, and the opposition is now looking to the military to see whether it will pressure Maduro to enact its demands, which include presidential elections.

Maduro was defiant in response, saying: "I don't take imperialist orders".

Russia, however, threw its weight behind Maduro and the election, backing the government turnout figure.

China has come out in support of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, defending the country's National Constituent Assembly election as "generally held smoothly", dismissing criticisms from the United States and its junior partners regarding alleged voting irregularities. Opposition leaders are calling on Venezuelans to gather in Caracas for a mass protest. "The next steps are for the global community to press the Venezuelan regime to make changes and cancel the (election) results and revoke whatever happened, to move forward".

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A group of about 30 Venezuelan nationals gathered on Sunday in New Haven, raising awareness against President Nicolas Maduro's regime. "Keep up your sanctions, Donald Trump!"

Maduro also announced he had named Jorge Arreaza, a former vice president, as foreign minister.

Speaking at a news briefing in London, Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said the results of Sunday's poll were off by at least one million.

"In the short term, the Constituent Assembly gives a bit of breathing space to the government", he conceded, though adding that grave economic consequences would follow.

While Venezuela's old allies, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russian Federation, supported the Sunday vote for the formation of the new 545-member body, the United States, the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Canada and Peru denounced the vote, saying the Constituent Assembly can destroy the Venezuelan democracy and institutionalize autocracy there.

According to the electoral authority, more than 40 percent of the 20-million-strong electorate voted. Maduro's opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

The drop in global energy prices and political corruption have destroyed Venezuela's oil-rich economy.

More than 120 people have been killed in the protests, drawing worldwide condemnation of the security forces' heavy-handed tactics. Food is scarce; medicine scarcer still.

Since then, it has gone global and now serves elections in Venezuela and several other countries.

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