Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has won Sunday’s elections with an overwhelming majority, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced.
Maduro took 68% of the vote, while Henri Falcon got 21% and Javier Bertucci secured 10 per cent.
CNE president Tibisay Lucena put voter turnout at 46% while Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), which boycotted the elections, said less than 30% of the 20.5 million eligible voters went to the polling stations.
Lucena said the election was free and fair with only a few complaints of irregularities reported. Maduro’s main challenger Falcon said the “illegitimate” poll was fraught with “irregularities”.
Falcon, along with Bertucci, called for fresh elections
He said ruling party’s employees scanned voters’ identity documents even inside polling stations and lured them with benefits if they voted for Maduro.
Some of his election observers were barred from entering polling stations, he said, adding that one of them was beaten by members of the armed forces.
Amid low voter turnout, polling stations remained open for two more hours beyond the deadline sparking rumours of vote rigging on behalf of Maduro.
Maduro said peace and democracy finally won while opposition said he was defeated by citizens who did not accept intimidation.
Hundreds of Venezuelans took to the streets in several Latin American capitals to denounce the vote.
The oil-rich country is mired in recession. Steep inflation has contributed to widespread shortages of food and medicines, prompting thousands of sick people to flee to neighbouring countries.
On Sunday, Venezuelans also voted for members of state and municipal legislative councils.
More than a dozen countries of the Lima Group have recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela for consultations after Maduro’s election victory through “manipulation and fraud”.
The group composed of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatamala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucia said the Venezuelan ambassadors in each of their countries had been summoned to receive a note of protest.