Venezuela's top prosecutor opens probe into electoral fraud

Venezuela's top prosecutor opens probe into electoral fraud

Venezuela's top prosecutor opens probe into electoral fraud

"The European Union and its member states, therefore, can not recognize the Constituent Assembly as they have concerns over its effective representativeness and legitimacy and call on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to take urgent measures to rectify the course of events".

"If it wasn't a tragedy. if it didn't mean more crisis, the electoral council's number would nearly make you laugh", opposition leader Freddy Guevara said on Twitter. "That stupid guy, the president of Smartmatic, pressured to the neck by the gringos and the Brits, said there were 7.5 million".

Many have dubbed this phenomenon the "Maduro diet" for the embattled president, who has said that doing without "makes you tough".

"Nothing and no-one can stop the victory of the people", he said to applause from 500 members of the new assembly.

"We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated", said Smartmatic Chief Executive Antonio Mugica in a press briefing in London. But he did not specify whether his company's figures showed 1 million fewer, or 1 million more, voters.

This is the first time ever, that Smartmatic - which has been providing the electoral machinery since 2004 -has contradicted the CNE electoral board in Venezuela.

The head of the campaign for Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, insisted that the only valid results oare those provided by the National Electoral Council, CNE, which orginally counted 8,089,320 votes.

Maduro faces mounting accusations at home and overseas of trampling on democracy with his "Constituent Assembly", elected Sunday in a vote boycotted by the opposition and allegedly marred by fraud.

The National Electoral Council denies that, dismissing it as the firm's baseless "opinion".

She called the formation of the new assembly a "significant event" and said the body has no oversight.

"There is a rise in xenophobia in the USA, and a flood of Venezuelans from across social strata into the country risk local backlash and becoming pawns and scapegoats of U.S. politicians", he said. So the turnout figure was the key gauge of public support.

An independent exit poll concluded Sunday's turnout was less than half that reported by the election commission.

Despite the controversy surrounding voter turnout and the final results, Maduro plans to swear in the 545 members of the new "constituent assembly" so they can get to work.

The EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement that the bloc's 28 member states could not recognise the constituent assembly "as they have concerns over its effective representativeness and legitimacy". Maduro's opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

Polling company Smartmatic, which provided the Latin American country's voting system, has alleged large scale tampering during Sunday's election, which saw 10 people killed in violent clashes.

A full audit would be needed to confirm the exact numbers, he said.

The opposition contends the vote was rigged to pack the assembly with supporters of Maduro.

Venezuela has been in the throes of nationwide protests since late March, with citizens demonstrating against food shortages, galloping inflation and Maduro's autocratic government.

The court reversed the ruling three days later, but for the opposition the message was clear - Venezuela's democratic principles were crumbling and the highest legal body in the country could no longer be trusted.

Related news