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Americas

Macron riles Venezuela with presidential election criticism

media Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Palacio Miraflores

Venezuela's government on Wedneday hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron after he claimed its presidential election in May would not be free and fair. Macron made the claim after meeting Venezuelan opposition leaders on Tuesday.

"President @EmmanuelMacron, on 20 May millions of Venezuelans will democratically elect the president with the most secure and democratic system in the world," Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Azzeara tweeted. "We demand respect for Venezuela's internal affairs."

In further tweets, he accused Macron of being "subordinated to warmongering schemes of @realDonaldTrump" and exploiting Venezuelan politics to deflect attention from his problems in France, posting reports of the current rail strike to underline his point.

Venezuela's FM answers Macron

After meeting Venezuelan opposition leaders in Paris on Tuesday, Macron threatened to push for new European sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro's government "if the Venezuelan authorities do not allow democratic elections".

Present conditions do not make a "fair, free and transparent poll" possible, he said.

Opposition tour Europe

The former speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly, Julio Borges, former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma and Antonio Ledezma of the People's Will party started a European tour with a visit to France's Elysée presidential palace on Tuesday.

They called on the "international community" to refuse to recognise the results of the 20 May vote, which they are boycotting on the grounds that they will be "rigged" with the aim of winning Maduro a second six-year term.

Henri Falcon, a member of the opposition MUD coalition, has broken ranks to stand in the poll, which was postponed from 22 April to 20 May.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for "fair and transparent elections" after meeting his Argentine counterpart, Jorge Faurie.

He, too, warned of "additional measures" if the EU judges there has been no progress on democratic rights in the Latin American country.

Last month the United Nations said it would examine a request from Falcon and Maduro's government to send observers for the vote.

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