US condemns Venezuelan elections as neither free nor fair

According to the pro-regime electoral authority the ruling socialist party won the governorships in 17 states with the opposition controlling just five

The National Electoral Council (CNE) has proclaimed that candidates of official United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) obtained 17 of 23 states in dispute.

"No. We are a rebellious, egalitarian people", Maduro said on Sunday.

"Our previously stated concerns were unfortunately realized: lack of independent, credible international observers; lack of technical audit for the National Electoral Council's (CNE) tabulation; last minute changes to polling station locations without public notice; manipulation of ballot layouts; and limited availability of voting machines in opposition neighborhoods". Some of the opposition did not participate in the elections stating they would be not be transparent.

The actions failed to pressure the government into holding an early presidential election, freeing scores of jailed activists or accepting foreign humanitarian aid.

"Neither the Venezuelan people nor the world will swallow the story that they beat us", he said.

Flanked by his powerful wife, soldiers, and red-shirted party members, a buoyant Maduro appeared on state television to celebrate victory and paint the opposition as sore losers. One staff member hit refresh this morning to see that he had been moved as we were discussing it at the morning meeting!

The opposition pocketed governorships including the turbulent Andean states of Merida and Tachira and the oil-producing region of Zulia.

"I ask that we celebrate with joy, music, dance, but in peace, with respect to the adversary".

The election was being watched closely as an indicator of how much support President Nicolas Maduro and the socialist movement founded by his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, maintain amid soaring inflation and crippling food and medical shortages that continue to wreak havoc in Venezuelans' daily lives.

"The results are absolutely inconsistent with all the surveys that showed Chavismo in a clear minority", said Edgard Gutierrez, head of the Venebarometro polling firm.

Susana Unda, a homemaker who voted for Carlos Ocariz, the opposition's candidate in populous Miranda state surrounding Venezuela's capital, used her truck to transport voters whose polling sites were relocated. In worst case, se studies claimed that MUD would obtain a minimum of 13 governorates.

One prominent opposition figure, legislator Jose Guerra, said the coalition should be careful about calling the results fraud, saying that disillusioned supporters who stayed away from the polls played a big role.

Pro-government electoral council president Tibisay Lucena says opposition candidates won just five of 22 races where the results are considered irreversible.

Even if the government loses most governorships, the newly elected opposition officials may not be allowed to take office.

The opposition called for an audit and urged Venezuelans to mobilize on the streets Monday in support.

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