UPDATES WITH DETAILS; ADDS BACKGROUND
By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro regained control of the opposition-led National Assembly in Sunday's elections as his party PSUV's bloc (the United Socialist Party of Venezuela) received 67.6% of votes, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Monday.
The CNE said 82.35% of the ballots have been counted so far with more than 5.2 million votes cast -- representing low participation of 31% of registered voters in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties.
While the Simon Bolivar Great Patriotic Pole alliance won the elections, the Democratic Alliance took 17.95% of the votes, the United Venezuela Alliance obtained 4.19%, the Popular Revolutionary Alternative PCV received 2.73%, and other parties represented 6.79% of the votes.
"I congratulate the GPP [Great Patriotic Pole] and the men and women of the UBCH [Units of Battle Hugo Chavez] for overcoming the difficulties of the blockade and the Pandemic, they have come out to vote," Maduro said, welcoming the results on Twitter. "We won with votes, we defeated the evil opposition and we can say that a change of cycle is coming, positive, virtuous, of work and recovery."
In a subsequent tweet, he also congratulated all participants of the contest as well as those elected.
"Good, committed and hard-working people came to the Legislature," Maduro added.
The election, contested by around 14,000 candidates, has given Maduro control over the country's 227-seat National Assembly.
Elected deputies will assume their posts on Jan. 5, 2021, and serve for a 5-year term.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself interim president in 2019 to oust Maduro's government and recognized by more than 50 countries, called the elections a "fraud".
"The fraud has been consummated, and the majority rejection of the people of Venezuela has been evident. Despite censorship and communicational hegemony, the truth cannot be hidden," said Guaido in a message to the nation after the closing of the polls.
His opposition movement called for a referendum following the election which asked Venezuelans whether they want to end Maduro's rule and hold new presidential elections.
The Organization of American States (OAS) refused to send observers to Sunday's election and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the voting process a "fraud and a sham".
“Venezuela's electoral fraud has already been committed. The results announced by the illegitimate Maduro regime will not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. What's happening today is a fraud and a sham, not an election,” Pompeo said on Twitter.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded: “A zombie has spoken! Although according to his Boss, there was fraud in the US elections. Secretary Pompeo, take the truth calmly and resignedly: in Venezuela, your failure is absolute. We hope that soon Diplomacy returns to the State Department and the White House.”
Canada, Chile, and Colombia followed the US on not recognizing the parliamentary elections.
Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a statement that "the process did not meet the minimum conditions for a free and fair exercise of democracy."
Arreaza immediately slammed the remarks by calling it "the ridicule syndrome under the [outgoing US President Donald] Trump era is contagious."
"Colombia does not recognize the results of the fraudulent elections of December 6 promoted by the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro without the guarantees of impartiality, freedom, equal opportunities, justice and transparency of the democratic system," the Foreign Ministry of Colombia said in a statement.
Arreaza responded in a tweet: "The Lima Group (cartel) is equal to its Chief Trump: it refuses to acknowledge that it no longer exists. They have been defeated. Who is the President of Peru? In Chile, how many were repressed today? Some social leader assassinated today in Colombia? Does the Gripezinha advance? They are now the Narnia Group."
For his part, Chilean Foreign Minister Andres Allamand said: "Venezuelan election lacks all legitimacy: no independent electoral authority, no free political parties, no foreign observers. Chile will continue to promote convergence of groups from Lima, Contact and Stockholm to support a transition with a united opposition."
* Laura Gamba from Colombia contributed to this story.