Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defends disputed regional elections | News | DW | 17.10.2017
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defends disputed regional elections

The opposition and foreign governments had questioned the legitimacy of the weekend regional elections. Left-wing President Nicolas Maduro has said electoral fraud is impossible in the South American country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rebuffed international criticism of Sunday's disputed regional elections that ended with a shock victory for his ruling Socialist Party.

"Venezuela's election system is the most secure and audited in the world ... nobody can commit fraud," Maduro told reporters on Tuesday.

Socialist Party candidates were able to win 17 of 23 state governorships on Sunday while the country's opposition, the Democratic Unity coalition (MUD), which had been predicted to win a majority of states, won only five. As of Tuesday, Bolivar state was still to be declared.

MUD leaders have accused the government of rigging the election and refused to accept the results, while many foreign governments, including the US and the European Union, have condemned the vote as illegitimate.

"We will not take part in exploratory talks or negotiations unless (the authorities) agree to a recount," said MUD leader Angel Oropeza.

Rejecting those accusations, Maduro said that "our people have given a strong message to imperialism, to (US President Donald) Trump, to its regional allies and to the local right."

"President Donald Trump, I am not a dictator, not a rich magnate, I am a humble worker," he said in response to US condemnation.

Read more: Who makes up Venezuela's political opposition?

Governors in limbo

All 23 state governors were set to be approved by the all-powerful Constituent Assembly on Tuesday.

But the five MUD victors said they would boycott the ceremony despite Maduro's threat to dismiss any candidates that refused to swear allegiance to the body.

Maduro had created the Constituent Assembly in July to by-pass the country's parliament, the National Assembly, where the MUD has had a majority since 2015.

Oil-dependent Venezuela has been in a political and economic crisis since international oil prices collapsed in mid-2014. Rampent inflation has left millions facing shortages of basic goods and services.

amp/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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