Venezuelan rival disputes Maduro win | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 15.04.2013
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Venezuelan rival disputes Maduro win

Venezuela's electoral commission has declared acting President Nicolas Maduro the winning successor to his late mentor Hugo Chavez. Opposition rival Henrique Capriles has refused to recognize the election result.

Only 300,000 votes separated the two candidates after Sunday's vote, with Maduro placed by the commission at 50.7 percent of the vote compared to 49.1 percent for Capriles.

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Maduro calls on Capriles to concede election

"These are the irreversible results that the people have decided," National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena told a news conference.

But Capriles refused Monday to recognize the commission's declaration, saying "the result does not reflect the country's reality." He demanded a full vote recount.

The 40-year-old opposition leader, who also drew support from Venezuelan expats in the United States, had accused Venezuelan authorities of pressuring civil servants to vote for Maduro.

Maduro handpicked

Maduro, who was handpicked by Chavez before the former president died from cancer last month, told cheering supporters in Caracas that "this victory is another tribute to our commandante Hugo Chavez."

The 50-year-old former bus driver and trade union leader had served as foreign minister and vice president under Chavez who ruled Venezuela for 14 years with an oil revenue-based socialist revolution.

Chavez' policies, while popular among the poor, left other Venezuelans disenchanted because of high inflation, rising crime and food shortages.

Opinion surveys had given Maduro leads of 10 to 20 points during pre-election campaigning. His candidacy was backed by Chavez's leftist allies in the region, especially communist Cuba.

Capriles, who lost to Chavez by 11 points in a presidential election held last October, had sought to close the gap in his second shot at the presidency.

The electoral commission said voter turnout on Sunday was 78 percent, down from just over 80 percent in the October election that Chavez won.

ipj/mz (AP, AFP, dpa)

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