Free Press Journal

Maduro wins Venezuela polls challengers call ‘illegitimate’   


Caracas : Embattled socialist incumbent Nicolas Maduro won Venezuela’s presidential election by a landslide in a disputed vote marred by irregularities and mass absenteeism that led his main rivals to call for a re-run to prevent a national social crisis from exploding.

The National Election Council announced that with more than 92 percent of polling stations reporting, Maduro won nearly 68 percent of the votes Sunday, beating his nearest challenger Henri Falcon by more than 40 points.

As the results were being announced, residents of downtown Caracas just a few blocks from where Maduro supporters were celebrating banged on pots and pans in protest. Falcon accused the government of buying votes and dirty tricks to boost turnout among poor voters most hurt by widespread food shortages and hyperinflation in what was once Latin America’s wealthiest nation.

The election “without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognise this process,” Falcon told supporters minutes before the results were announced, vowing to fight on instead of joining a growing list of beleaguered anti-government politicians who’ve fled into exile of late.

US threatens sanctions after ‘sham’ Venezuela vote

Washington : The United States threatened new sanctions against the Venezuelan regime on Monday following an opposition-boycotted election that Washington denounced as a “sham” and “illegitimate.”  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed “swift economic and diplomatic actions” following elections that kept Nicolas Maduro in power and which observers described as deeply flawed, reports AFP. US Vice President Mike Pence said the election was “a sham — neither free nor fair. The illegitimate result of this fake process is a further blow to the proud democratic tradition of Venezuela.”  The White House is expected to announce sanctions to “support the restoration” of Venezuelan democracy later on Monday. “The United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their brave people continues,” said Pence.

Election officials said Maduro won 68 per cent of the votes cast in Sunday’s presidential poll, far ahead of the 21 per cent won by his nearest rival, ex-army officer Henri Falcon.

But the vote was marred by a 52 per cent abstention rate — a historic high — following a boycott called by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition, which slammed the ballot as a “farce.”

 Even before it took place, the United States, Canada, the European Union and a dozen Latin American countries said they would not recognize the results.  “Until the Maduro regime restores a democratic path in Venezuela through free, fair, and transparent elections, the government faces isolation from the international community,” Pompeo said. (AFP)