Published On: Wed, Aug 2nd, 2017

Venezuelan election turnout ‘manipulated,’ says poll-assist firm

Smartmatic head Antonio Mugica told a London press conference that his firm, which has served Venezuela since 2004, that the estimated difference between the actual and announced turnout was “at least 1 million votes.”

“We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assemble was manipulated,” said Mugica whose firm serves numerous countries around the world.

Read: What are Venezuela’s proposed constitutional changes?

There was no immediate response to his remarks from Venezuela’s National Election Council.

On state television, Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami said Sunday’s results had been reviewed and the 545 members of the new constitutional assembly would soon take the reins of government – superseding the opposition-majority National Assembly.

Arrests prompt outcry

Leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s government has also faced mounting criticism from foreign nations over Sunday’s poll, as well as Monday night’s subsequent arrests of opposition leaders, Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez.

Venezuela Oppositionspolitiker Antonio Ledezma (Imago/Zumapress/El Nacional/E. Morgado)

Forcibly detained: opposition politician Antonio Ledezma

European Parliament head Antonio Tajani said the EU should consider freezing assets and travel bans on Venezuelan government members.

European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray said a “whole range of actions is [being] discussed.”

Read – Five things to understand about oil-rich, cash-poor Venezuela

Visiting the Balkans, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington would “hold Maduro personally responsible for the health and safety” of Ledezma and Lopez.

Maduro had called Sunday’s vote for the proposed constitutional assembly after weeks of protests fed by anger at his government over food shortages, triple-digit inflation, high crime and alleged mismanagement that have resulted in at least 120 deaths.

Anti-government activists clash with security forces during a protest against the elections for a Constituent Assembly proposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas on July 30, 2017.

Violence has worsened in Venezuela with the government’s latest move to push through constitutional reform

Opposition-led assembly visited

French, British, Spanish and Mexican ambassadors visited Venezuela’s opposition-majority National Assembly on Tuesday to meet with its legislators.

After they left, members of pro-government motorcycle gangs surrounded the building.

Also on Tuesday, two judges – 33 among whom in July were named by the opposition-controlled assembly to Supreme Court posts – sought protection at the Chilean embassy in Caracas.

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    Author: Kathleen Schuster

 

ipj/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

Venezuelan election turnout ‘manipulated,’ says poll-assist firm