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Maduro wins second term amid boycott

22 May, 2018, 08:58 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • President Nicolás Maduro

A growing roster of nations condemned Venezuela's presidential election Monday and threatened to ramp up diplomatic and economic pressure on President Nicolas Maduro's already embattled government. But officials have been hesitant to take that step because adverse consequences - including greater privation for the Venezuelan people and a larger flow of refugees into neighboring countries - are more certain to manifest than a transition to democratic rule.

"We do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process that was carried out in Venezuela on May 20th, because it does not adhere to the global standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process", the statement said.

About 20 million people are eligible to vote in Sunday's elections, which Maduro is favored to win despite 75 percent disapproval of his government by Venezuelans facing dire shortages of food and medicine, cuts in power and water, and soaring crime.

Maduro, setting an example for government supporters who he called on to vote early, cast his ballot in Caracas shortly after fireworks and loud speakers blasting a military hymn roused Venezuelans from sleep around 5 a.m.

Many Venezuelans are disillusioned and angry over the election: They criticize Maduro for economic hardships and the opposition for its dysfunctional splits.

Former governor Henri Falcon and the evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, the two main candidates who lost to Maduro, said that there were more than 1,000 irregularities and called for new elections.

Voting centers across Venezuela appeared largely empty for the election despite assurances from government officials that millions had turned out to vote by midmorning.

Mr Maduro, 55, immediately called for dialogue with his opponents and put the best face forward on what analysts said were nonetheless disappointing results underscoring how vulnerable his hold on power remains.

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Turnout was 46 per cent, the election board said, way down from the 80 per cent at the last presidential vote in 2013.

The election has drawn broad criticism since some of Maduro's most-popular rivals were barred from running, and several more were forced into exile.

The Trump administration said it would not recognize the "sham" election and was considering oil sanctions. As we went to press state television had not announced its results. Election officials said they would address the claims. "It doesn't faze me when they say I'm a dictator".

National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena acknowledged a handful of complaints, but insisted they were minor compared to past elections.

Opinion polls say the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans distrust the electoral council.

Venezuela's leftist President Nicholas Maduro has easily won a second term, but his main rivals have refused to accept the results, calling the polling fraudulent - a view shared by the United States and many independent observers.

"If you're sick and the doctor gives you few days to live, you don't lie in bed waiting to die".

Nayra Martinez, a city employee and opposition activist, bucked her party's call to abstain from casting her ballot, saying it's no time to stop fighting. "We have a president of the people!"

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