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US won't legitimize 'electoral fraud' in Venezuela: Pompeo

The conditions for free and fair elections do not exist in Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said
The conditions for free and fair elections do not exist in Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said NICHOLAS KAMM POOL/AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

The United States will not contribute to "legitimizing yet another electoral fraud" in Venezuela, top diplomat Mike Pompeo said Thursday, after Nicolas Maduro's government invited the UN and the EU to monitor December parliamentary elections.

The US Secretary of State urged "all democratic actors, both within and outside of Venezuela, to continue to insist on the necessary, internationally accepted conditions for free and fair elections."

"We, and our democratic partners in Venezuela and the international community, will not contribute to legitimizing yet another electoral fraud carried out by the Maduro regime," he said in a statement.

The US and some 50 other countries view Maduro's previous election victory as fraudulent and demand the restoration of democracy in the South American country.

Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that 34 countries have called for a transitional government in Venezuela to ensure transparent elections.

On Thursday he said conditions for free and fair elections "do not exist in Venezuela."

"Freedom of the press does not exist. Freedom of expression does not exist. Freedom of assembly does not exist. These minimum conditions to receive a credible international electoral observation mission remain absent," he said.

Pompeo spoke a day after Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza invited the United Nations and the European Union to send observers for the December 6 polls, saying "broad electoral guarantees" had been agreed on.

Maduro on Tuesday pardoned more than 100 lawmakers and associates of opposition leader Juan Guaido "in the interests of promoting national reconciliation" ahead of the polls.

But Pompeo said the move made no difference, arguing that hundreds of prisoners remain, and that "none of these Venezuelans should ever have been imprisoned for a single day."

He said Maduro could yet rescind the pardons based on "arbitrarily determined" charges, and added that Guaido and other opposition leaders are "still threatened, harassed, and indicted by the regime."

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