CARACAS, Venezuela, Monday July 31, 2017 – President Nicolas Maduro has claimed victory in yesterday’s vote that saw a Constituent Assembly – which will have the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution – replacing the National Assembly.
Maduro claims the new body it will bring peace to the country, but opposition parties who boycotted the election described it as a naked power grab, and officials in the United States called it a sham.
In the protests that followed the vote, at least 10 people were killed.
The Constituent Assembly is expected to give Maduro sweeping powers, as all 545 seats in the new legislative body were won by allies of his Socialist Party. In addition to being able to rewrite the constitution, the Constituent Assembly will also have the power to dissolve state institutions, such as the opposition-run Congress and dismiss dissident state officials.
Following the vote, the President mocked the US authorities who have threatened sanctions against Venezuela over the election and said they would not recognize the results.
“A spokesperson for Emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly election,” he told cheering supporters. “Why the hell should we care what Trump says? We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.”
However, in a statement issued yesterday, the US State Department said the elections were “designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.”
“We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of today’s flawed election,” it added.
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) July 31, 2017
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council said more than 8 million people voted in the election – “the biggest turnout that the Bolivarian Revolution has had in its entire 18-year history”, Maduro had claimed. However, the opposition put the figure at less than 3 million.