Venezuela poll results a 'strong message' to US, allies: Maduro

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is celebrating his party's victory in regional elections but the opposition reject the results and demand an audit

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday his socialist party's landslide victory in disputed regional elections had delivered a "strong message" to the United States and its allies.

"Our people have given a strong message to imperialism, to (US President Donald) Trump, to its regional allies and to the local right-wing," Maduro told a news conference after the opposition rejected the results and the US and EU said they were deeply flawed.

He accused the "imperial forces of the north" of launching "a psychological, political and economic war" against his government.

"It is not going to be an economic war or an induced inflation that makes this people give up," said Maduro, who according to opinion polls has an 80 percent dissatisfaction rating among Venezuelans who are struggling with serious food and medicine shortages and record inflation.

Washington condemned "the lack of free and fair elections" while the European Union called the results of Sunday's vote "surprising" and said it was necessary "to find out what really happened."

The president of neighboring Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said Tuesday that Venezuela needed to hold general elections under an "independent" electoral authority.

The opposition Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD), which accuses the National Electoral Council of being a vehicle of the government, rejected the result and called for a full audit of the electoral process saying it was riddled with "irregularities."

The government claimed victory in 17 of the 23 regional governorships in Sunday's poll. Several opinion polls had indicated the MUD would win the vast majority of the governorships.