Venezuela president claims fraud in legislative elections


CARACAS, Venezuela, Thursday December 31, 2015 – President Nicolás Maduro is now claiming that the December 6 polls in which his leftist party suffered a massive defeat were marred by fraud, and he has challenged the landslide victory in the courts.

The opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) soundly beat the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), taking 112 of the 167 seats up for grabs to take control of the National Assembly for the first time in 16 years and secure a two-thirds majority – a super majority.

That super majority gives the MUD the power to put legislation to a referendum, remove officials from office, call an assembly to draft a new constitution and even seek to force Maduro from power before the end of his term in 2019.

But the PSUV has lodged appeals against the election of eight MUD legislators that, if successful, would take away the opposition alliance’s two-thirds majority. The motions were filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, just days after the government appointed 13 new justices, including two of the five justices from the panel that deals with all electoral issues.

Speaking on his weekly television show, Maduro – who had initially conceded defeat after the elections – said “there were a lot of things going on” in the elections, including vote buying.

The president said he had evidence of the irregularities and would reveal that, along with the opposition’s plan, soon.

However, the opposition coalition is claiming that Maduro is attempting to mount a “judicial coup”, and has urged the international community to step in.

“The country, the region and the world are facing a judicial coup attempt against the Venezuelan people’s decision,” the MUD executive secretary Jesus Torrealba wrote in an open letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and senior officials of the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations and regional bloc MERCOSUR.

“The ruling party’s irresponsible behavior is pushing the entire country to the brink of disaster, which would have grave consequences for the entire region.”

Maduro was elected in April 2013 for a six-year term and will continue to lead the country for four more years, unless he loses a recall referendum.

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