International outcry grows over disputed Venezuela vote

President Nicolás Maduro

President Nicolás Maduro

Calling for a new vote, Mr Falcon, 56, said: "The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognise it".

CNE President Tibisay Lucena announced the results with 92.6 percent reporting and said the turnout was 46.1 percent, Deutsche Welle reported.

But he said he nonetheless favours a new election soon and urged Maduro to do the courageous thing and desist from running.

The MUD's most popular leaders have been sidelined or detained, the boycott their only remaining weapon.

A third presidential candidate, evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, also accused the ruling party of using the stalls to manipulate the vote.

Maduro won the elections with just over 5.8 million in elections with Falcon trailing on 1,820,552 votes.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition has won support from the United States, the European Union and 14 countries of the Lima Group who called for the vote to be postponed.

Accomplishing that should be the focus for global policymakers and Maduro's domestic opponents in the coming weeks and months.

But the main opposition coalition discouraged its supporters from casting ballots and Bloomberg reported the United Nations won't certify the election and the United States won't recognize its victor.

"The United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their fearless people continues".

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Voting centers appeared largely empty in opposition areas across Venezuela and were even lackluster in government strongholds.

For more than a year, the Trump administration has considered imposing more severe economic sanctions, including a potentially devastating ban on oil imports from Venezuela.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is threatening moves against Venezuela's already reeling oil sector.

About 20 million people are eligible to vote in Sunday's elections, which Maduro is favored to win despite 75 percent disapproval of his government by Venezuelans facing dire shortages of food and medicine, cuts in power and water, and soaring crime.

Maduro, who faces a colossal task turning around Venezuela's moribund economy, has offered no specifics on changes to two decades of state-led policies.

Some poor cardholders in Caracas - there are 16.5 million nationwide - said they hoped Maduro would deliver on his campaign promise of a "prize" to those who demonstrated their loyalty.

Some opposition supporters say the boycott only made life easier for Maduro and that his rivals should have fought him at the ballot box despite an unfair playing ground.

Fewer than half of registered voters turned up at the polls, but the opposition, which has boycotted the election, said even that figure was inflated. Some American officials have hinted at the desirability of a coup, but it seems misguided to view as a democratic savior a security service indoctrinated in socialist and anti-American thinking, armed and trained by Russia, China and Cuba, active in drug trafficking, and responsible for killing Venezuelan citizens.

Maduro faces a Herculean task to turn around the moribund economy, with the bolivar currency down 99 per cent in the past year and inflation at an annual 14,000 per cent, according to the National Assembly.

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