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LATIN AMERICA | 22-05-2018 11:35

After defeat, Venezuela opposition vows to unite

Venezuelan officials have declared socialist leader Nicolás Maduro the winner of Sunday’s presidential election. Maduro’s leading challenger has questioned the legitimacy of the vote and called for new balloting.

Venezuela’s two main opposition coalitions are pledging to unify the nation's fragmented anti-government movement and push for a new election later this year.

Opposition leader Omar Barboza said Monday that the Broad Front and the United Democratic Roundtable will push for a “free, transparent” election with international observers in the last trimester of 2018.

He said both groups will announce new actions toward that goal in the days ahead.

Venezuela’s opposition rallied thousands to the streets in protest of President Nicolas Maduro's increasingly autocratic rule last year but the movement has since fizzled.

Many Venezuelans are disillusioned about the prospect of change.

Opposition leaders pushed Venezuelans to abstain from voting in Sunday’s presidential election. Turnout was the lowest in a presidential race in decades.

Venezuela’s official election results give President Nicolás Maduro a larger percentage of the vote than any other candidate running for head of state since 1958.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Monday that Maduro’s victory was of “epic proportions” and called it “the biggest victory” by a candidate in Venezuela’s history.

The pro-government National Election Council says Maduro won 4 million votes more than independent challenger Henri Falcon.

That’s a bigger percentage win than any other candidate since Venezuela’s 1958 election following the overthrow of dictator Marcos Pérez Jimenez.

However, low turnout means Maduro’s actual vote total was lower than when he only narrowly won election for the first time in 2013.

US Vice President Mike Pence is calling Venezuela’s elections a “sham — neither free nor fair.” Pence says in a statement that the “illegitimate result of this fake process” is another blow to democratic traditions in the country.

Pence says the United States “will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their brave people continues.”

Venezuelan officials have declared socialist leader Nicolas Maduro the winner of Sunday’s presidential election. Maduro’s leading challenger has questioned the legitimacy of the vote and called for new balloting.

Pence says the Maduro government must allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela “and must allow its people to be heard.”

- AP

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