Maduro claims victory in controversial constituent assembly vote

01 Aug 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has claimed victory in the controversial election for a constituent assembly.

Electoral officials announced that the election turnout was 41.5% while the opposition, which has refused to recognize it, said 88% of voters had abstained.

The election was marred by violent nationwide protests leaving at least 10 people dead.

The US has responded by slapping sanctions on Maduro.

In context: US slaps sanctions on Maduro after controversial vote

30 Jul 2017Clashes mar Venezuela's constituent assembly vote, 10 killed

On July 30, at least 10 people died in protest-related violence in Venezuela as the country voted for a controversial constituent assembly.

The President Nicolas Maduro-led government wants the assembly to rewrite the constitution and override the opposition-controlled congress.

The opposition has boycotted the vote, likening it to dictatorship.

An opposition youth leader, a pro-government candidate and a soldier are among those killed.

01 Aug 2017Maduro claims victory in controversial constituent assembly vote

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01 Aug 2017Two key Venezuelan opposition leaders arrested after constituent assembly election

Venezuelan opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma have been rearrested on accusations of inciting violence in 2014 during anti-government demonstrations.

The leaders were both under house arrest. Their families are currently unaware of their whereabouts.

Their arrest comes after a controversial constituent assembly election which was marred by street violence.

President Nicolas Maduro convened the assembly to rewrite the country's constitution.

Maduro hails election result

A triumphant Maduro said: "We have a Constituent Assembly. I said, come hell or high water-- and hell and high water came -- and the Constituent Assembly arrived from the hand of the people, from its conscience."

Dictatorship?Why does Maduro want a new constituent assembly?

The election would lead to the replacement of the opposition-controlled legislative body, the National Assembly, with a new 545-member constituent assembly.

All members of the constituent assembly have been nominated by the Maduro administration.

The assembly can draft or adopt a new constitution, which Maduro feels would facilitate "reconciliation and peace" in a polarized country.

The opposition considers it a move towards dictatorship.

Several Latin American countries refuse to recognize election result

The election was criticized by the US and European Union. Venezuela's neighbors Colombia, Panama, Peru, Argentina and others have refused to recognize the election result. Russia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia still stand by Maduro.
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DisputeOpposition disputes election body's turnout data

Tibisay Lucena, the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), said there had been an "extraordinary turnout" of over eight million voters.

Opposition politician Henry Ramos Allup said less than 2.5 million people had voted.

The opposition also claims the CNE's figures are unverifiable as several poll procedures weren't followed in the constituent assembly elections.

No independent observers oversaw the election.

US sanctionsUS freezes Maduro's assets in America

Washington has frozen assets of Maduro in the US and has forbidden American companies and individuals from doing business with him.

It's unclear whether Maduro has any investments in America and the sanctions are likely symbolic.

Maduro is the fourth foreign leader after Syria's Bashar al-Assad, North Korea's Kim Jong-un, and Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to be blacklisted this way.

Maduro calls US sanctions "illegal, insolent and unprecedented"

The US called the constituent assembly election "illegitimate" and Maduro a dictator. Maduro called the sanctions "illegal, insolent and unprecedented." "The emperor Donald Trump took decisions against me that show his desperation and hate," Maduro said, adding that the sanctions didn't scare him.