The US Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions against the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, a day after controversial elections took place in the South American country.

In a statement on Monday (31 July), the US Treasury said that the elections that Maduro called for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC), were aimed "illegitimately to usurp" the country's National Assembly as well as rewrite the constitution, and "impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela".

"As such, it represents a rupture in Venezuela's constitutional and democratic order," the Treasury said.

"The Maduro administration has proceeded with the ANC even though Venezuelans and democratic governments worldwide have overwhelmingly opposed it as a fundamental assault on the freedoms of the Venezuelan people.

"The creation of the ANC follows years of Maduro's efforts to undermine Venezuela's democracy and the rule of law."

Any of Maduro's assets under US jurisidiction will be frozen and it will be illegal for Americans to do any deals with him.

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy," said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.

"Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future US sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela."

Maduro came to power after the death of Hugo Chavez, having previously held positions in Chavez's government. The election for the ANC was boycotted by opposition parties and marred by violence across the country that left at least ten dead.