Venezuela: EU sanctions 7 individuals holding official positions

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Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly, ANC, member Diosdado Cabello has proposed that presidential elections in the South American country be held before April 30. Venezuela now suffers from food shortages, hyperinflation, and dwindling oil production - provoking massive migration out of the country.

"They should find the closest date, to get this out of the way so we can begin to make a great revolution", a jubilant Maduro told hundreds of red-shirted supporters at a rally to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of Venezuela's last military dictatorship.

The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, known as PSUV, has not yet announced a presidential candidate.

"Our delegation [to the dialogue] has precise instructions from me... to give full guarantees for the holding of presidential elections this year in 2018, full and complete guarantees", the head of state declared on the eve of the last round of talks on January 11.

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Tuesday she did not think it would be a good idea for Maduro to run for re-election. The National Electoral Council is stacked with Maduro allies while the government controls much of the media and far outspends the opposition during campaigns.

The official also commented on recent sanctions imposed by the USA government on Venezuelan officials, affirming that "if the world wants to apply sanctions to us, we will apply elections".

The local elections were boycotted by several opposition leaders.

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The three-time Grand Slam victor crashed out in straight sets to American Tennys Sandgren, ranked 97th in the world. At the same time, I was pleased. "There's no reason for that right now, I think".

With the presidential election now only weeks away and numerous most popular opposition leaders either imprisoned, barred from running for office or in exile, the opposition will most likely struggle to find a candidate who can present even the slightest challenge to Mr.

"We're not going to have any problem", Cabello said to thunderous applause during Tuesday's raucous session of the constitutional assembly.

Maduro, a former bus driver and foreign minister under the former president Hugo Chavez cabinet, took over in 2013 after Chavez died battling cancer. But the move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas just as USA relations with Cuba, a longtime US foe in Latin America and key ally to Venezuela, are set to be normalized.

But political analysts also say Maduro may not have to resort to fraud because his opposition right now is so fractured and dysfunctional - which may be why he is calling an election now.

The EU officials said those sanctioned "are involved in the non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law as well as in the violation of human rights".

Meanwhile, opposition parties are planning to hold primaries in order to choose a unified presidential candidate. He is on many people's lips as a 2018 presidential candidate, and he has done well in at least one public opinion poll.

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