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Venezuela sends two top opposition leaders to jail

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Florencia Cordero center said that one plantain cost as much as her house did 25 years ago.               CBS News

"Nothing can stain this process, because it's transparent", he said at a ceremony for allies elected to the new assembly, vowing electoral authorities would carry out a "100% audit".

She adds that the council reserves the right to seek legal action against what she calls an "irresponsible declaration".

"A company located outside the country does not guarantee the transparency and credibility of the Venezuelan electoral system", Lucena said. "Mr. Mugica intends to question the results of an election in which (Smartmatic's) only role was to provide services for this institution".

People hold portraits of opposition leader Antonio Ledezma in front of a wall with a portrait of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez during a news conference at the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela on August 1, 2017.

The arrests came as leaders of Venezuela's opposition-dominated legislature called for citizens to help defend the National Assembly, and welcomed a surge of global support, as Maduro seeks to rewrite the country's constitution.

The claim of fixing comes as Maduro faces global pressure following the arrest of two opposition leaders in the wake of the weekend's vote.

All of ANC'S 545 members are supporters of the leftist leader.

"The clock is ticking fast and time is running out for authorities in Venezuela to make a decisive U-turn when it comes to their approach to free expression", she said.

On Wednesday, the head of a voting technology company asserted the official count of Venezuelans who participated in the election was tampered with - off by at least 1 million votes.

It noted that political parties usually received printed copies of election returns of all polling stations, to allow them to compare these printed records against the results published later by the electoral commission.

However, old allies Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russian Federation stood by Maduro, who shrugged off mass protests and a previous round of USA sanctions on some of his officials to see through the election.

Smartmatic's chief executive Antonio Mugica said he could not "endorse" the outcome as officials ignored his company's results. Among the best known Venezuelan opposition leaders are Leopoldo Lopez (a descendant of the great revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar), and the former mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma.

Venezuela has used electronic voting machines for more than a decade.

"We've seen the completion of Venezuela's collapse into dictatorship", U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said during a visit to Montenegro Wednesday. Maduro has threatened that one of the constitutional assembly's first acts would be jailing Guevara for inciting violence. A host of Latin American nations, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia, have called the vote illegitimate.

The United States, which has already slapped sanctions on Maduro and top officials, was scathing in its reaction to the latest news.

Key opposition figure and Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles said voter participation Sunday was less than 15%. In March, the Venezuelan Supreme Court chose to absorb the legislative powers of the state's National Assembly.

"Because I called democratic elections so that people can freely vote for the National Constituent Assembly", he said.

Sunday's vote came after months of sometimes deadly anti-regime protests and an economic crisis that has led many to leave in search of easier access to food and medicine. Maduro's response has been to assail spreading street protests with an iron fist and to erode the power of the National Assembly, in which his opponents have a majority.

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