Maduro wins Venezuela election challengers call illegitimate

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Embattled socialist incumbent Nicolas Maduro has won Venezuela’s presidential election by a landslide in a disputed vote marred by irregularities and mass absenteeism that led his main rivals to call for a re-run to prevent a national social crisis from exploding.

The National Election Council said Maduro won nearly 68 percent of votes with more than 92 percent of polling stations reporting after Sunday’s election. Henri Falcon finished far behind with 21 percent.

Falcon accused the government of buying votes and using dirty tricks to boost turnout among poor voters hurt by food shortages and hyperinflation in what was once Latin America’s wealthiest nation.

The disputed victory is likely to heighten international pressure on Maduro. As voting took place, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned “sham elections change nothing.”