Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has won re-election to another six-year term, in a vote marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.
Amid food shortages stemming from a severe economic crisis, just 46% of the electorate turned out to vote.
The main opposition candidate, Henri Falcón, rejected the result soon after the polls closed.
“We do not recognise this electoral process as valid… we have to have new elections in Venezuela,” he said
With more than 90% of the votes counted, Mr Maduro, 55, had 67.7% – 5.8 million votes – National Electoral Council chief Tibisay Lucena announced. Mr Falcón won 21.2% – 1.8 million votes – she said.They underestimated me,” Mr Maduro told cheering supporters outside his presidential palace in Caracas, as fireworks went off and confetti was fired in the air.
Mr Falcón has alleged that the vote was rigged in Mr Maduro’s favour, by abuse of the scanning of state-issued benefits cards used for accessing food.
Government officials said the polls were “free and fair” but most of the opposition joined a boycott against the poll.
The administration of the US President Donald Trump said it would not recognise the result.Posting on Twitter ahead of the vote, the US mission to the United Nations called the process an “insult to democracy”.
The elections were supposed to be held in December 2018, but the National Constituent Assembly, made up exclusively of Mr Maduro’s supporters, brought them forward.
The opposition Democratic Unity coalition said the elections were moved to take advantage of divisions within the coalition. Its two biggest candidates were also barred from running, and others have fled the country.There were a handful of minor candidates but only Mr Falcón, a governor under the late President Hugo Chávez, was seen as a viable alternative to President Maduro. He came from the same socialist party as President Maduro, but left in 2010 to join the opposition.Mr Falcón, who ran despite the boycott, has said he believes the majority of Venezuelans want to remove Mr Maduro from office.
The rest of the opposition, however, has frowned on his breaking ranks – with some even branding him a traitor.