Maduro declared victor in disputed Venezuela election

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The United States and other countries are likely to apply additional economic and diplomatic pressure on the Venezuelan government following President Nicolas Maduro's victory Sunday in elections that most of the opposition had boycotted and that worldwide community had denounced as a farce.

The European Union had already imposed sanctions on seven top Venezuelan officials including the head of the pro-government election council in January.

He said Venezuelans would provide an example of democracy to the world and brushed back suggestions he was taking the country down an authoritarian path. "The illegitimate result of this fake process is a further blow to the proud democratic tradition of Venezuela", Pence said in a statement.

Government critics also say other voters were pressured into voting for Maduro.

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

Voting centers across Venezuela appeared largely empty for the election despite assurances from government officials that millions had turned out to vote by midmorning.

'I'm hungry and don't have a job, but I'm sticking to Maduro, ' said Carlos Rincones, 49, in the once-thriving industrial city of Valencia, accusing right-wing business owners of purposefully hiding food and hiking prices.

He promised to spend the next two years before scheduled congressional elections repairing an economy he says has been badly damaged by mafias backed by Colombia and the US.

The official result gave Maduro 67.7 percent of the vote, with Falcon a distant second at 21.2 percent.

Venezuela Nicholas Maduro re-elected as President

"America stands against dictatorship and with the people of Venezuela", Pence said.

"Venezuela's so-called elections today are not legitimate", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Twitter.

"In the red points they were engaging in shameless vote manipulation", said Bertucci.

Maduro has attacked the democratic institutions of Venezuela over the past several years and worked to stamp out opposition to his government, which is facing intense condemnation over its handling of rampant inflation and economic decline.

Widespread concern was expressed about the fact that mainly poor Venezuelans were asked to scan state-issued "fatherland cards" at specially installed red tents after voting in hope of receiving a "prize".

Presidential elections were held on 20 May.

Bertucci, a TV evangelist, stopped short of challenging the results, saying what he called a mistaken opposition boycott that led to the lowest voter turnout in two decades of socialist rule also boosted Maduro.

"This was a farce by a dictator that wants to stay in power without popular support", said lawmaker Juan Pablo Guanipa, speaking on behalf of the newly created Broad Front coalition that had been behind the stay-at-home strategy. "Thank you for giving me 68% of those votes". "That's what we need to do with our country". "We've never seen a country as wealthy in terms of natural resources and in human capital as Venezuela is, driven into such an economic death spiral so quickly by such a small group of individuals determined to enrich themselves at the expense of millions of people".

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