Seven people dead after widespread election violence in Venezuela

President-elect Maduro accuses opposition of trying to stage a coup Caracas tells Spain to mind its own affairs after Madrid calls for recount

Opposition supporters hold a demonstration in Caracas on Monday night to demand a full recount of Sunday's presidential vote.
Opposition supporters hold a demonstration in Caracas on Monday night to demand a full recount of Sunday's presidential vote.Miguel Gutierrez (EFE)

At least seven people have been killed and 61 injured in widespread post-election violence that has swept across Venezuela between government authorities and opposition supporters, who are demanding a full recount of Sunday’s ballot.

Luis Ortega, the country’s chief prosecutor, said at least 135 people have been arrested but did not provide any details about the deaths and injuries.

People in Caracas and other cities held street demonstrations, which were marred by violence as riot police fired rubber bullets and tried to keep demonstrators from approaching the CNE offices.

The leader of the opposition, Henrique Capriles, has called on his supporters to demonstrate in front of the National Electoral Council (CNE) offices in cities across the country to demand a recount, after he was narrowly defeated by interim President Nicolás Maduro by less than two percent of the vote.

Opposition representatives reported more than 3,200 irregularities and voting violations, including the destruction of ballot boxes, just before the polls closed late Sunday.

Maduro, who was declared president by the CNE, has opposed the recount and said Tuesday that Capriles and his supporters want to launch “a coup against my government.”

“You are responsible for the dead that we are mourning today,” said the 50-year-old president-elect, who is due to be sworn in on Thursday, during a nationwide address.

Maduro vowed to keep Capriles’ supporters from marching at the CNE headquarters in Caracas on Wednesday in a massive demonstration called by the opposition leader.

“It is time to take a strong hand,” the president said.

On his Twitter account, Capriles claimed that Maduro “ordered that there be violence to avoid counting the votes.”

“They are responsible!” he said.

Spain and other European nations have demanded that a full recount be held so that all allegations of voting discrepancies can be resolved. But Maduro accused Spain of meddling in Venezuelan affairs after Spanish Foreign Minister José García-Margallo called on Caracas to recount the ballots.

“They should concern themselves about the 25-percent unemployment they have,” the president said in a televised speech.

US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Tuesday that it “was difficult to understand” why Maduro won’t carry out a recount and that Washington was consulting with the EU and the Organization of American States (OEA) on the situation. For now, the United States will not recognize the Maduro government, he said.

With 99.5 percent of the 14,917,057 ballots counted, the CNE gave new figures on Tuesday putting Maduro ahead of Capriles by 1.85 points.

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