Maduro in olive branch call to parties
Speaking from the balcony of the Miraflores Palace, Maduro, who was re-elected on Sunday, reiterated that dialogue was the only way the South American nation could end infighting.
Highlighting the level of participation in the election, which saw him capture an estimated 68% of the vote, Maduro said: “It has been a heroic, beautiful, popular victory forged in the struggle. I'm the president of all of Venezuelans. I call for a dialogue process. Permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs.”
“The revolution is here to stay!” Maduro told the crowd, promising to prioritise the country's economy and socioe-conomic development during his new term and fight off “imperialism” from the external forces, which tried to derail the country's election.
“If the empire or the rightwing governments of the region want, someday, to talk in peace and respect I'm always open to dialogue,” Maduro said.
He added: “To the empire, I say: understand that Venezuela is the warranty of social and political stability in our country and the region. It's a sin to try and destabilise Venezuela.”
He also congratulated the National Electoral Council (CNE) and celebrated the participation of international observers during Sunday’s election.
Some 150 international observers from 30 countries and international organisations were in Venezuela for the elections.
With most of the votes counted, Maduro had 5.8 million votes, with his closest rival, former governor Henri Falcó* getting 1.8 million votes, said CNE president Tibisay Lucena who added that in total, 8.6 million Venezuelans voted, out of an electoral registry of 20.5 million people.
Falcon, who had promised to change Venezuela's currency, said he wouldn't recognise the results, claiming that they were “illegitimate”.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Spanish prime minister and also an international observer, gave positive feedback about the presidential elections. “I do not have any doubt about the voting process. It is an advanced automatic voting system. I come here to keep the peace, co-ordinate and promote dialogue to improve the democratic mechanism here.
“What I need to do here is to see whether people can cast their ballots at their own discretion. Now we all see how people vote, don't we?” he said.
Other international observers monitoring the Venezuelan elections said the vote took place without any incidents in an atmosphere full of the exercise of civic duty.
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales congratulated Maduro on his re-election, and praised it as a victory against foreign interventionism.
“The sovereign Venezuelan people have triumphed again against coup plotting and interventionism by the North American empire. The free people will never submit. Congratulations to brother Nicolas Maduro and the brave people of Venezuela,” Morales tweeted.
Earlier in the day, when Venezuelans had begun voting, Morales also gave his support.
“I greet the brother people of Venezuela, who today go to the polls. This period is historic, because Venezuela is demonstrating its democratic vocation, in spite of the interventionism that suffers the empire.”
The Cuban government also offered solidarity regarding what it said were new challenges faced by Maduro’s government in his new six-year presidential term.