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At Least 7 Dead in Venezuela Election Protests

Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles run from tear gas fired by riot police as they rally for an election recount, Caracas, April 15, 2013.
Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles run from tear gas fired by riot police as they rally for an election recount, Caracas, April 15, 2013.
VOA News
Venezuela's chief prosecutor says seven people have been killed in widespread protests following acting President Nicolas Maduro's narrow victory in Sunday's presidential election.
 
Attorney General Luisa Ortega said 61 people were injured in the post-election demonstrations, while 135 people have been arrested. Ortega did not give details about the deaths or injuries or how they occurred.
 
Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles took to the streets Monday after Venezuela's election commission declared Maduro — the late President Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor — winner of Sunday's vote.
 
Maduro was reportedly elected by a razor-thin margin of 50.7 percent to 49.1 percent for Capriles, who is the governor of Miranda state. Capriles has refused to recognize the results, demanding a full recount and urging his supporters to protest the outcome peacefully.
 
Monday night, demonstrations turned violent as Capriles followers banged pots and pans and burned trash bags as they marched through the streets of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, demanding a recount. They were confronted by police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them. Opposition protests were also reported in several provincial cities.
 
Maduro has responded to the unrest by accusing the opposition of seeking a coup. He said Tuesday that he will not allow demonstrators to hold a march planned for Wednesday in Caracas.
 
"You, the yellow candidate," said Maduro in reference Capriles, "you are the one that has provoked all of this for not respecting the results, because of your whim. ... You are responsible for all of this."
 
Capriles says his campaign has received more than 3,200 complaints of irregularities in the election.
 
"On this [referring to the protests] I tell you that you [the government] are responsible for peace in this country, to resolve this political conflict," said Capriles. "Don't come with this story that I've seen that you are the majority, don't call yourself this. The result you got yesterday is that there isn't a majority, there are two halves in this country."
 
Both the United States and the Organization of American States have echoed opposition demands for a recount. White House spokesman Jay Carney says a recount is necessary and prudent to ensure Venezuelans have confidence in the results.
 
At the beginning of the campaign, Maduro held a double-digit lead in the polls over Capriles, who lost decisively to Chavez in last year's presidential election. But Maduro's lead shrank considerably during the campaign, as Capriles accused the Chavez and Maduro governments of doing little to solve Venezuela's economic problems, food shortages and soaring crime rate.
 
Maduro has pledged to continue what he calls the Chavez revolution, which supporters say used oil wealth to lift millions out of poverty.
 
Chavez died last month after a two-year battle with cancer.
 
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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