Maduro declared winner in disputed Venezuela election

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Venezuelan officials declared socialist leader Nicolas Maduro the easy winner of Sunday’s presidential election, while his leading challenger questioned the legitimacy of a vote marred by irregularities and called for a new ballot to prevent a brewing social crisis from exploding.

The National Election Council announced that with almost 93% of polling stations reporting, Maduro won nearly 68% of the votes, beating nearest challenger Henri Falcon by more than 40 points.

The disputed victory is likely to heighten international pressure on Maduro, as voter turnout was the lowest in a presidential race since the start of Venezuela’s leftist revolution two decades ago. Even as voting was taking place Sunday, a senior State Department official warned that the U.S. might press ahead on threats of imposing crippling oil sanctions on the nation that sits atop the world’s largest crude reserves.

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