Maria Corina Machado, 56, who won Venezuela's opposition primary
Maria Corina Machado, 56, who won Venezuela's opposition primary, is barred from holding office for 15 years AFP

Venezuela's Supreme Court on Monday suspended the outcome of an opposition primary vote, prompting Washington to warn it would "take action" if President Nicolas Maduro's government did not meet its commitments ahead of a 2024 election.

The United States agreed to ease oil and gas sanctions against Maduro's government after it struck a deal with the opposition to hold an election the international community hopes will restore democracy in the crisis-wracked country.

However, the government subsequently rejected the outcome of an opposition primary to choose a presidential candidate. That vote earlier this month was won by Maria Corina Machado, 56, who is banned from holding office for 15 years.

Maduro's administration has launched a probe into the primary, claiming it was tainted by fraud.

And Jose Brito, a dissident opposition lawmaker accused by some of being in cahoots with the Maduro government, filed an appeal against the primary to the Supreme Court.

"All the outcomes of the different phases of the electoral process... are suspended," read Monday's ruling.

The top court also reiterated its ban of Machado, for alleged corruption and backing international sanctions against Caracas.

Venezuelan officials are demanding the opposition hand over all documents relating to the primary election, including logs that could identify voters.

Washington urged Maduro's government to "uphold the commitments they made at the signing of the political roadmap agreement in Barbados," where Caracas and the opposition agreed to hold presidential elections in the second half of 2024, a State Department spokesperson said.

"The US government will take action if Maduro and his representatives do not meet their commitments under the electoral roadmap," added the spokesperson.

After the United States agreed to ease some oil and gas sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Venezuela had to "define a specific timeline and process for the expedited reinstatement of all candidates" by the end of November.

"All who want to run for president should be allowed the opportunity," he said.

Venezuela, which has the world's largest proven oil reserves, is dealing with a crippling political and economic crisis, marked by hyperinflation and a shortage of basic goods, which has pushed millions to flee the country.

The opposition, backed by several countries including the United States, did not recognize Maduro's 2018 reelection in a vote widely dismissed as fraudulent, and Washington ramped up sanctions.

A global energy crisis sparked by Russia's war on Ukraine has seen renewed global efforts to solve the crisis in Venezuela.