Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday celebrated the election of a new legislative superbody that is expected to give the ruling Socialist Party sweeping powers and mocked U.S. criticism that the vote was an affront to democracy.
At least 10 people were killed on Sunday in protests against the unpopular Maduro, who insists the new body known as the constituent assembly will bring peace after four months of protests that have killed more than 120 people.
Countries across the Americas, as well as the European Union, denounced the creation of the assembly, which will have the power to rewrite the constitution.
The United States – the top market for the OPEC nation’s oil – called the vote a sham, and officials in Washington said they were preparing oil-sector sanctions.
“A spokesperson for emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s constituent assembly election,” Maduro told a crowd of cheering supporters following the completion of the vote.
“Why the hell should we care what Trump says?” he added. “We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.”
Opposition leaders call the election a naked power grab meant to keep the Socialist Party in office despite anger over an economic crisis that has spurred malnutrition and left citizens struggling to obtain basic consumer products.
The country’s elections authority said more than 8 million voters went to the polls on Sunday, while the opposition estimated only 2.5 million ballots were cast. (Reuters)