Sun | Jun 24, 2018

International outcry grows after Maduro wins presidential election

Published:Monday | May 21, 2018 | 10:32 AM
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, holding a copy of the country’s constitution, addresses supporters at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, after electoral officials declared he was re-elected on Sunday, May 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — 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.

A coalition of 14 nations from throughout the Americas, including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, pledged to scale back diplomatic relations with Venezuela and urge international organisations not to issue Venezuela any new credit.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decried the vote as not respecting “minimal democratic standards” and vowed to consult with European counterparts on new measures in hopes of “easing the suffering of Venezuelans.”

The outcry followed U.S. condemnation even before the pro-government National Election Council declared Maduro the overwhelming winner in Sunday’s vote, which drew the lowest participation on record for a presidential election in decades.

Most opposition organisers had urged Venezuelans not to participate in an election from which the most popular anti-government leaders had been banned.

Leaders with the nation’s fragmented opposition declared the widespread abstention a silent but forceful protest and vowed to regroup moving forward.

“It’s evident we are the resounding majority those who want a new Venezuela,” said Henrique Capriles, one of Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leaders.

“It’s evident those who are in power can’t mobilise and don’t have the support they once enjoyed.”

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

As the results were being announced, residents of downtown Caracas banged pots in protest just a few blocks from where Maduro supporters were celebrating.

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