Opponents slam Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s election victory as a sham

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(CNN) Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has won another six years in power in crisis-hit Venezuela, in an election that the political opposition and foreign powers have denounced as a sham.

Many eligible voters boycotted Sunday’s polling, bringing turnout to a lackluster 46%, according to the country’s election board. Participation was far below the 80% rate in 2013, when Maduro rose to power after the death of veteran leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro gave a victory speech at a rally in central Caracas on Sunday night, after the electoral board declared him the winner.

“I am a better-prepared president and human being right now,” he said to a cheering crowd outside Miraflores presidential palace. “You trusted in me and I will respond. Thank you for giving me 68% of those votes.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, wave to supporters at the presidential palace in Caracas.

The United States said it would not recognize the vote’s results, while the European Union and some Latin nations warned before the vote that the election was shaping up to be unfair.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier on Twitter: “Sham elections change nothing. We need Venezuelan people running this country … a nation with so much to offer the world.”

Maduro brushed off comments from US officials that the vote lacked legitimacy.

“There has been a fierce campaign by the government of Donald Trump. In the United States there has been a fierce pressure to try to besmirch the Venezuelan elections — and they couldn’t,” Maduro said earlier Sunday.

He added that he would be open to dialogue with the “empire” of the United States.

“If the government of the United States wants to dialogue at some point, I am open to dialogue. If the other right wing countries that are supported by the US want to dialogue, I am open to that,” he said.

An alliance of 14 Latin American nations and Canada, known as the Lima Group, released a statement Monday calling the vote illegitimate.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process that was carried out in Venezuela on May 20th, because it does not adhere to the international standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process,” the statement said.

It also stated that the signatory countries would “decrease their diplomatic relations with Venezuela” and call back their ambassadors in Caracas for “consultation.”

The alliance includes Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, St. Lucia, Guyana, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

The main opposition coalition boycotted the election, but Maduro was not without challengers.

Maduro’s chief rival for the presidency was Henri Falcon, a former state governor and onetime loyalist of the ruling party who broke ranks in 2010. About 5.8 million votes went to Maduro and Falcon came in second with 1.8 million votes, according to the electoral board, with 92.6% of the votes tallied.

On Sunday, Falcon said he would not recognize the results and cited hundreds of complaints of election violations. Election officials said they would address the claims.

“In such circumstances we have serious, serious questions on our part and in addition to the questioning that we may have about the process, without any doubt it lacks legitimacy and in this sense, we do not recognize this electoral process,” Falcon said.

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