Venezuelan opposition figure barred from public office

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Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado holds a white flower as speaks during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 30, 2015Image source, AP
Image caption,
"They're acting like the dictators they are," said Maria Corina Machado on social media

A leading opposition figure in Venezuela, Maria Corina Machado, says she has been barred from public office for a year.

Ms Machado, who is a former congresswoman, said she was given 15 days to appeal against the decision.

It was not clear on what grounds she was barred but the move could prevent her from standing again for congress in December's parliamentary election.

Ms Machado led a major street protest against the government in early 2014.

Government opponents have accused President Nicolas Maduro of bullying the opposition ahead of the elections.

Another leading opposition figure, Daniel Ceballos, a former mayor who is also running for parliament, was also banned from holding public office.

Venezuelan media said he was disqualified for not presenting a sworn wealth declaration.

Ms Machado was stripped of her seat in the National Assembly last year after accepting an invitation from Panama to speak before the Organisation of American States (OAS) to give her account of the wave of unrest which spread through Venezuela in early 2014.

The state prosecutor's office then charged her of taking part in an alleged plot to kill President Maduro.