CARACAS – Just over eight million people voted in the election of a National Constituent Assembly on Sunday, the National Electoral Council (CNE) claimed.
Officials say that 41.53 percent of registered voters in Venezuela turned out on a day marked by violent protests and clashes which left at least 10 people dead.
The opposition, which has denounced the elections as fraudulent, claims that only 12 percent of voters went to the polls.
The president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, claimed Sunday’s election had been “peaceful, democratic and without violence” despite authorities confirming the deaths of at least 10 people during opposition protests and clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
The vote was being held to elect the National Constituent Assembly, a body that President Nicolas Maduro created to rewrite the nation’s constitution.
The opposition has refused to recognize the vote, which comes after months of violent protests in Caracas and other cities against the government and its plan to rewrite the constitution to give Maduro more power.
The president contends that the assembly is necessary to restore order in oil-rich Venezuela, which has been racked by near-daily protests, political stalemate and a deep economic crisis, but the president’s opponents say it is a cynical ploy to buy time until elections scheduled for October 2018.
The opposition tried last year to oust Maduro via a recall referendum drive, and has accused the president of illegally blocking that drive.