Venezuela’s Maduro Claims Vote Win, Op­po­si­tion Vows Protests

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

Cara­cas: Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro claimed vic­tory on Mon­day in an in­ter­na­tion­ally crit­i­cised elec­tion to pick a new as­sem­bly to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion, but the op­po­si­tion vowed to keep protest­ing de­spite deadly clashes.

Ten peo­ple were killed in a wave of blood­shed that swept Venezuela on Sun­day as Maduro de­fied an op­po­si­tion boy­cott and in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion — in­clud­ing the threat of new US sanc­tions — to hold elec­tions for a pow­er­ful new “Con­stituent As­sem­bly”.

Protesters at­tacked polling sta­tions and bar­ri­caded streets around the coun­try, draw­ing a bloody re­sponse from se­cu­rity forces, who opened fire with live am­mu­ni­tion in some cases.

De­spite the boy­cott and the un­rest, the head of the Na­tional Elec­toral Coun­cil, Tibisay Lu­cena — one of 13 Maduro al­lies al­ready hit by US sanc­tions — said there had been “ex­tra­or­di­nary turnout” of more than eight mil­lion vot­ers, 41.5% of the elec­torate.

In a speech to hun­dreds of sup­port­ers in cen­tral Cara­cas, Maduro hailed it as a win. “We have a Con­stituent As­sem­bly,” he said. “It is the big­gest vote the rev­o­lu­tion has ever scored in its 18-year his­tory,” he said, re­fer­ring to the year his late men­tor,Hu­goChavez,came­topower.

The so­cial­ist pres­i­dent is gam­bling his four-year rule on the 545-mem­ber as­sem­bly, which will be em­pow­ered to dis­solve the op- po­si­tion-con­trolled congress and re­write the con­sti­tu­tion.

There was blis­ter­ing in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of the vote, led by Wash­ing­ton. “The US con­demns the elec­tions... for the Na­tional Con­stituent As­sem­bly, which is de­signed to re­place the le­git­i­mately elected Na­tional As­sem­bly and un­der­mine the Venezue­lan peo­ple’s right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion,” US State Depart­mentspokeswom­anHeather Nauert said in a state­ment.

Ni­co­las Maduro

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