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Venezuela claims 41.5% turnout in violent constituent assembly vote (Second Lead)

Caracas, July 31 (IANS) Despite nationwide violent clashes, electoral officials in Venezuela announced that the turnout in the controversial constitutional assembly election, called by President Nicolas Maduro, was 41.5 per cent, the media reported on Monday.

However, the figure was disputed by the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), reports the BBC.

According to the MUD, 88 per cent of the voters abstained and refused to recognise the election which it says will turn the country into a dictatorship.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), just over eight million people went to the polls on Sunday to vote for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a body that President Maduro created to rewrite the nation’s constitution

The election was marred by violence with widespread protests that began on Saturday night and claimed at least 10 lives besides leaving over 400 others injured. The MUD has put the toll at 14.

Meanwhile, Maduro hailed the election and warned of measures against Parliament, the public prosecutor’s office, opposition leaders and the private media in his first televised speech after the vote, reports Efe news.

He said the new ANC would take power in the coming hours and would remove parliamentary immunity from “those who need it to be lifted”.

The President promised that the ANC would counter the “parasitic bourgeoisie” and solve the economic crisis and political stalemate which has racked the country, as well as take over the judiciary.

Maduro also criticized the media’s coverage of the vote, attacking privately run television channels for “censuring the elections”.

A non-governmental organisation, Foro Penal Venezolano said that 64 people were arrested in the states of Zulia, Merida, Monagas, Aragua and in the cities of Caracas, Carabobo and Anzoategui.

Protestors burned a traffic police station in Caracas.

The opposition has called for more protests on Monday. It has refused to recognise the vote.

They also tried to oust Maduro last year via a recall referendum drive and accused the President of illegally blocking that drive.

The election was called by Maduro in late April. Since then the country has witnessed violent protests in which over 90 people were killed and thousands others injured.

Maduro and his decision has come under heavy criticism from other South American countries as well as by the European Union (EU) and the US, reports the BBC.

Venezuela has said it will withdraw from the Organisation of American States (OAS) after members including the US, Canada and Mexico said they would not recognise the authority of the assembly.

Venezuela has already been suspended from regional economic bloc Mercosur by fellow-members Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, following concern over human rights.

On Sunday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, dismissed the vote as a “sham election” and a “step towards dictatorship”.

Post Source: Ians feed

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