Venezuela's Maduro cheers election, opposition barricades streets

Maduro decreed a ban on protests during and after the vote threatening prison terms of up to 10 years for anyone violating the order

Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma were under house arrest after allegedly inciting violence during protests against the government in 2014 in which three people died. "We don't know where he is or where they're taking him". "He is now a dictator", said McMaster, adding that Maduro has joined "a very exclusive club", that includes Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who have all been sanctioned by Washington.

Local media posted mobile phone footage of Mr Ledezma, wearing pyjamas, being taken forcibly from his home as a woman shouts "dictatorship!"

"Certainly, despite a significant opposition movement, Chavismo still holds widespread support across Venezuela, and any peaceful solution to the ongoing situation needs active dialogue between the two sides, something that is hindered by external efforts to threaten Venezuela and delegitimize the vote in totality", COHA said.

The United States, which backs the opposition in Venezuela, called the ANC elections a "sham".

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of the central state of Miranda, urged Venezuelans to protest Monday against an assembly that critics fear will effectively create a single-party state.

"The emperor Donald Trump took decisions against me that show his desperation and hate", President Maduro said in a televised speech on Monday. "We don't take orders from the Empire, he said".

Pineda was on a ticket to become part of Venezuela's potential new constitutional assembly, which would be tasked with rewriting the country's constitution. "This [8 million] number is impossible, it's total fraud", said opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado, who told Reuters he monitored the turnout in a sprawling Caracas slum.

The news of Pineda's death before today's vote was announced Sunday via the Venezuela's Public Ministry's Twitter account. The Trump administration again promised "strong and swift actions" against Venezuelan officials, including the 545 participants in the constitutional assembly, many of them low-ranking party members.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said: "A Constituent Assembly, elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances, can not be part of the solution".

An exit poll based on surveys from 110 voting centres by NY investment bank Torino Capital and a Venezuela public opinion company estimated 3.6 million people voted, or about 18.5 per cent of registered voters.

Along with the US, the European Union and nations including Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain and Britain criticized Sunday's vote. However, imposing sanctions on a head of state is rare and can be symbolically powerful, leading other countries to similarly shun such a leader.

"Nicolas Maduro's government must stop before it is too late", he said.

According to The Guardian, the new assembly would have nearly unlimited powers and would convene within 72 hours of the election.

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