Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has warned the United States and the European Union (EU) against imposing new sanctions on his country over alleged fraud in recent regional elections in which his socialist party claimed a landslide victory.
Maduro’s party said it had won 17 of the 23 governorships in the country in the Sunday elections, and an opposition coalition managed to grab only five. The opposition Democratic Unity Coalition refused to recognize the results and alleged that there had been irregularities in the voting process.
The US, which has already imposed sanctions on Maduro’s government, vowed to put more pressure on Venezuela
after accusing the government of “authoritarian dictatorship” and describing the vote as “neither free nor fair.”
Maduro is pictured with new elected governors after a news conference at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, on October 17, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
On Tuesday, Maduro told international correspondents that his country’s “election system is the most secure and audited in the world.”
“Our people have given a strong message to imperialism, to Trump, to its regional allies and to the local right,” he added, referring to the US president.
Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, had earlier called for an audit of the electoral process.
Maduro also said, “President Donald Trump, I am not a dictator; I am a humble worker… I have a mustache and look like Stalin, but I’m not him.”
The socialist president further said that he extends his “hand to my worst enemies of Venezuela, to my worst adversaries.”
‘EU must open its eyes’
Maduro also reacted to the EU, which has it found the poll results “surprising” and is preparing to raise pressure on Maduro’s government.
The bloc said it needs to “find out what really happened.”
Maduro called on European countries to “open their eyes,” saying his country would not be stopped by more sanctions. He urged EU foreign policy
chief Federica Mogherini to visit or receive him in Brussels to discuss the issue.
The EU, too, has imposed sanctions on Caracas.
Maduro also had harsh words for Canada, which has refused to recognize the vote results.
“There goes the stupid government of Canada saying that they don’t recognize the elections,” Maduro said. “It is of little importance to me if Canada recognizes Venezuela or not. We recognize them and we are independent and sovereign.”
Opposition divided over vote results
Meanwhile, two opposition candidates who failed to win in the Sunday vote, have diverged from the official coalition position by conceding defeat in the elections.
The supporters of opposition parties attend a gathering near the regional office of the National Electoral Council in Venezuela, October 16, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Henri Falcon, of Lara State, and Alejandro Feo La Cruz, of Carabobo, said on Tuesday the opposition “need courage to recognize truth in adversity.”
“Responsibly I say we lost, it is that simple, and that we have to accept it,” Falcon said.
The opposition candidates who have won should now decide if they will swear allegiance to the county’s new Constituent Assembly, which itself was a cause of controversy when it took over legislative powers from the opposition-dominated parliament in July.
The opposition does not recognize the body.