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NICOLAS Maduro declared that Venezuela’s “revolution is here to stay” after sweeping to an overwhelming victory in Sunday’s presidential elections, taking 68 per cent of the vote.
“It has been a heroic, beautiful, popular victory forged in the struggle. I’m the president of all Venezuelans,” Mr Maduro declared in his victory speech.
Jubilant supporters in Caracas chanted: “Let’s go, Nico,” letting off fireworks in celebration of Mr Maduro retaining the presidency.
Speaking from the balcony of the Miraflores Palace, he warned against attempts to destabilise Venezuela following months of threats from neoliberal forces, with many — including the European Union — having called for the elections to be cancelled.
“To the empire, I say understand that Venezuela is the guarantee of social and political stability in our country and the region. It's a sin to try and destabilise Venezuela,” he said.
Right-wing opposition groups boycotted Sunday’s presidential and state legislative council elections and have consistently rejected government-initiated talks, despite Mr Maduro urging them to engage in political dialogue rather than street violence.
The government drafted the Democratic Co-existence Agreement earlier this year in an attempt to broker peace and bring an end to US-sponsored sanctions.
However, the main opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) refused to sign the accord and called for a boycott of the elections.
Mr Maduro received around 5.8 million votes, comfortably ahead of his closest rival Henri Falcon, who polled 1.8m.
Despite Falcon campaign officials telling the Star before the vote that they would respect the outcome, Mr Falcon immediately declared the results “illegitimate” and demanded a fresh election in October.
However, Mr Maduro’s stunning victory keeps the Bolivarian revolution alive in the face of “the biggest international aggression against Venezuela,” which has see crippling sanctions imposed by the US and EU.
Bolivian President Evo Morales praised Mr Maduro’s victory as a triumph over those seeking to bring down Venezuela’s socialist government.
“The sovereign Venezuelan people have triumphed again against coup plotting and interventionism by the North American empire.
“The free peoples will never submit. Congratulations to brother Nicolas Maduro and the brave people of Venezuela, ” Mr Morales said.
Mr Maduro insisted that “permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs.
“If the empire or the right-wing governments of the region want, one day, to talk in peace and respect, I’m always open to dialogue," he added.
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