Venezuela election: Donald Trump slams vote as ‘sham’

The 46-year-old is president of Venezuela Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, left, looks over a ballot booklet used for early voting in the presidential election, during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, January 24, 2019….

Venezuela election: Donald Trump slams vote as ‘sham’

The 46-year-old is president of Venezuela

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, left, looks over a ballot booklet used for early voting in the presidential election, during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, January 24, 2019. Photograph: Antonio Scorza/AP

Donald Trump has slammed the re-election of Nicolás Maduro, calling the process “sham”, after the controversial outcome was announced by the country’s electoral authority.

The US president has said the election – which Maduro won with 61% of the vote – “should never have been held”.

A 54-year-old economist and former union official, Maduro was elected president on 16 May last year.

Who is Nicolás Maduro?

The president is 51 years old and was the chairman of Venezuela’s state oil company when he became president. Maduro has been nicknamed “Chavismo” after former President Hugo Chávez, and had been vice-president to Chávez before he was elected president himself in April 1999. Chávez ruled the country from 1999 until his death in 2013.

President Maduro at a campaign rally. Photograph: Rogelio V. Solis/AP

How has the government tried to legitimise his re-election?

The new president’s legitimacy in his new term was guaranteed by the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) which was elected on 5 July last year. The body is considered illegitimate by the opposition as the choice for executive power had been foreclosed in a 2017 law.

The ANC is divided between hardline Chavistas who support Maduro, and detractors who want to resign the president.

Venezuela elections: how did it work? Read more

What happened after the declaration of Maduro’s victory?

The National Electoral Council (CNE) declared Maduro the winner of the presidential election and accused the US of backing the opposition in an effort to interfere with the vote.

Opposition politicians said the vote was fraudulent and that the results were manipulated to ensure a Maduro victory. More than seven million Venezuelans voted according to local elections officials, but international observers say the figure is inflated.

On Thursday a US special envoy, Elliott Abrams, had described the election as “a deeply flawed vote”.

Venezuela has suffered an economic crisis in recent years. Many face shortages of basic goods, severe food shortages and dramatic increases in inflation.

How has the opposition reacted?

Opposition politicians and supporters have called for protests against the results and say a repeat election will take place in 10 days. The opposition will try to oust Maduro in a military coup, they have said.

The government suspended all public transportation, radio and television broadcasts and has made it difficult for residents to get around the country.

What has the international community said?

Venezuela has suffered a crisis over the past three years and has become increasingly isolated in the international community. Maduro had come under pressure from other countries to step down. Brazil and Peru expelled the Venezuelan ambassador this week.

The EU, the US and Canada have accused Maduro of “killing” the country.

The European parliament voted this week to impose sanctions on Maduro and senior government officials. A day earlier the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he “cannot and will not recognise” the result of the elections.

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