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Venezuela expels top US diplomats

May 22, 2018

President Nicolas Maduro accused envoy Todd Robinson of a "military conspiracy" after new US sanctions were imposed. Maduro was re-elected on Sunday in a widely contested vote.

Todd Robinson
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Llano

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that the top US envoy to his country, Todd Robinson (pictured) and another US diplomat, Brian Naranjo, had 48 hours to leave the country.

The announcement came after Maduro accused Robinson of being involved in "a military conspiracy" against Caracas, adding that he would provide evidence shortly for the allegation.

"Neither with conspiracies nor with sanctions will you hold Venezuela back," said Maduro, one day after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions against Maduro's government.

The US State Department has denied the "false allegations" against the two diplomats.

Widely criticized vote

The move came just after Venezuela's widely-condemned presidential election, in which Maduro won easily after barring his rivals from running and plying voters with a government-sponsored "prize."

The European Union said in a statement Tuesday that Sunday's vote had not complied with "minimum international standards for a credible process," and added that the bloc was considering an appropriate response.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry accused Washington of "political and financial lynching," with its new sanctions, which make it more difficult for Maduro to sell state assets.

The country has been reeling from a series of economic crises brought about in large part to reforms made under Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Hyperinflation is set to reach 13,800 percent this year according to the IMF amidst massive shortages in food and medicine.

amp, es/rt (AFP, Reuters)