Venezuela vote turnout 41.5% - electoral commission

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By Alasdair Sandford
Venezuela vote turnout 41.5% - electoral commission

Venezuela’s electoral commission has said turnout in Sunday’s controversial vote was 41.5 percent, with just over eight million people casting their ballots.

Counting began on Sunday night with early results expected within hours. The vote was marred by clashes with at least 14 people reported to have been killed.

Despite the mass boycott President Maduro sought to justify his move seeking backing for a new constituent assembly with the power to rewrite the constitution and override congress.

He called the vote a success with “great participation” by the people.

“Anyone with eyes can see it; the oligarchy doesn’t have eyes or ears for the people. To them the people have always been invisible. So we don’t care about the opinion of the oligarchs, we care about the truth of the people,” the president said.

Opposition leaders have called on people to protest on Monday against the assembly and to remember those killed in anti-government demonstrations.

For them the vote is not legitimate, just a blatant attempt to impose a communist dictatorship.

“This is an authoritarian government acting totally outside the Constitution, and today the people of Venezuela have won – a free, rebel (people) with a determination to secure victory for democracy,” said Julio Borges, President of Venezuela’s National Assembly. “The government has been defeated, and whatever that Constituent Assembly does – neither the Venezuelan people nor the international community will recognise it.”

US officials say the Trump administration is considering imposing more sanctions.

Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley denounced Sunday’s vote in a tweet as a “sham” and a “step towards dictatorship”.

One source has been quoted as saying that new sanctions could hit Venezuela’s vital oil sector.

Potential action is thought to stop short of an outright ban on Venezuelan oil shipments to the US, but could include a ban on the sale of lighter US crude oil, hampering the country’s refining network.