Venezuela's Maduro orders EU envoy to leave following fresh sanctions

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an event with the youth of Venezuela's United Socialist Party in Caracas, Venezuela June 22, 2020. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS reuters_tickers

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered the European Union envoy to leave the country, hours after the EU announced sanctions against several officials loyal to the socialist leader.

The EU subjected 11 officials to financial sanctions, citing their actions against the democratic functioning of Venezuela's National Assembly.

The European bloc earlier this month said a decision by the South American nation's Supreme Court in May to ratify an ally of Maduro as president of the National Assembly was illegitimate. Opposition leader Juan Guaido was the rightful congressional president following his election by the majority of members in January, not the court-approved Luis Parra, the EU said.

Parra was among those named in Monday's sanctions, along with Franklyn Duarte and Jose Gregorio Noriega, who were named as vice-presidents of the assembly in the May court ruling.

Maduro gave the EU envoy, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, 72 hours to leave the country after the sanctions were announced.

"A plane can be loaned to her to leave," he said during an appearance on Venezuelan state TV.

Also on the EU sanctions list were Juan Jose Mendoza, president of the Supreme Court's constitutional chamber, and General Jose Ornelas, head of the National Defense Council.

The EU said the 11 individuals "are particularly responsible for acting against the National Assembly's democratic functioning, including stripping parliamentary immunity from several of its members."

"[They have] also initiated politically-motivated prosecutions and created obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela."

The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment and it was not possible to immediately contact some of those sanctioned. An EU spokesperson in Caracas did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The EU said the new list took the number of Venezuelan officials under sanctions to 36.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera, writing by Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Kinosian; editing by Jane Wardell)

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