CARACAS • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro yesterday claimed victory in an internationally criticised election for an assembly to rewrite the Constitution, but the opposition cried fraud and vowed to keep protesting.
Ten people were killed in a wave of bloodshed that swept Venezuela on Sunday as Mr Maduro defied an opposition boycott and international condemnation - including the threat of new US sanctions - to hold elections for a powerful new "Constituent Assembly".
Protesters attacked polling stations and barricaded streets, drawing a bloody response from security forces who opened fire with live ammunition in some cases.
The head of the National Electoral Council, Ms Tibisay Lucena, said there was an "extraordinary turnout" of over eight million voters, 41.5 per cent of the electorate.
The 545-member assembly will be empowered to dissolve the opposition-controlled Congress and rewrite the charter. Mr Maduro has encouraged the assembly to scrap opposition lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.
There was blistering global condemnation of the vote, led by Washington. The Constituent Assembly aims to "undermine the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination", US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said, threatening further "strong sanctions".
The election was also condemned by the European Union, Canada and Latin American powers including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.