Seven dead in Venezuela post-vote violence: Official

Seven dead in Venezuela post-vote violence: Official

CARACAS - Reuters
Seven dead in Venezuela post-vote violence: Official

A woman walks past a bonfire during a protest of supporters of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles in Caracas on April 15, 2013. Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro was proclaimed the winner of an election to succeed late leader Hugo Chavez here Monday triggering protests as the opposition demanded a recount. AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Violent protests over the outcome of Venezuela's presidential election to replace late president Hugo Chavez have left at least seven dead and 61 injured, the attorney general said April 16.

"The most serious thing is that in these violent actions, seven Venezuelans died," said Attorney General Luisa Ortega, adding that 61 were injured. So far, 135 people have been arrested, she said.

Violent protests swept parts of Caracas and other cities around the country Monday night after the National Election Council proclaimed acting President Nicolas Maduro the winner of Sunday's election and rejected opposition demands for a recount.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles called Maduro's narrow victory "illegitimate" and called on supporters to protest peacefully against the council's refusal to do a recount.

Maduro responded by accusing the opposition of seeking a coup d'etat, and calling on his supporters "to combat in peace.

The National Electoral Council has refused to hold a recount of the votes, and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on April 15 to disperse opposition supporters who protested in a wealthy district of Caracas.

The election was triggered by the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez last month after a two-year battle with cancer. He named Maduro as his successor before he died and his protege narrowly won the election with 50.8 percent of the vote to Capriles' 49.0 percent.

Both sides have called for their supporters to hold peaceful demonstrations nationwide on April 16, raising fears of more political unrest in the OPEC nation of 29 million people.

"I call for the people to fight peacefully, to mobilize in all the country ... enough abuses!" Maduro told reporters on Monday, hours after formally being declared the winner. "They're trying to violate the majority ... we call on them (the opposition) to respect the people's will."

"We are not going to ignore the will of the people. We believe we won ... we want this problem resolved peacefully," Capriles told a news conference. "There is no majority here, there are two halves." 

As well as the clashes in Caracas, which included demonstrations outside the offices of state television channel VTV and the home of the head of the election authority, opposition protests were reported in several provincial cities.