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Venezuela opposition challenges presidential election result in court

Venezuela’s opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has lodged an appeal with the country’s highest court against the presidential election result, which gave Chavez ally Nicolas Maduro a narrow victory.

Venezuela parliament 2013 05 1Enlarge
Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges after a fight inside the Venezuelan parliament. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images)

Opponents of Venezuela's newly elected president, Nicolas Maduro, have lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, hoping to convince the nation's highest legal body to overturn the April 14th vote.

The official count gave Maduro, the hand-picked successor to late president Hugo Chavez, a narrow victory by 1.5 percent.

Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles don't expect the Supreme Court, which they claim is dominated with Chavez-Maduro loyalists, to support them — but they say they'll go through all national processes and institutions before taking the fight to international bodies, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

They also hope that the legal battle will serve to discredit Maduro to Venezuelans, according to opposition lawyer Gerardo Fernandez, speaking to Reuters. 

"This appeal seeks to annul the elections and request new presidential elections in Venezuela," he said. "We've come to defend the citizens who voted on April 14."

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The legal complaint alleges "bribery, violence and fraud," according to opposition coalition official Ramon Jose Medina, speaking to AFP. 

Although the Carter Center and other observers have given Venezuela's electoral system a clean bill of health, the opposition claims some polling stations recorded that an improbable 100 percent of votes went to Maduro, among other irregularities. The opposition claims many state workers complained they were pressured to vote for Maduro.

On Thursday, the Venezuelan opposition asked prosecutors to investigate a dramatic General Assembly brawl where several lawmakers were "brutally attacked," according to the Associated Press. 

Numerous opposition senators were visibly injured in the violence in the Venezuelan congress earlier this week, despite the fact that their ruling party counterparts accuse them of starting the fight. 

It has now emerged that one prominent opposition politician, Maria Corina Machado, who claims that assembly leader Diosdado Cabello smiled on as she was assaulted next to him by Chavista deputies, will have surgery for multiple fractures in her nose.

Opposition sources said 17 of its own deputies and five from the government were injured in the violence.

The scuffle came after opposition deputies protested at Cabello’s decision to refuse to allow them to speak in the chamber until they recognized Maduro as president.

The government has also proposed suspending their congressional salaries. Several of those same deputies unfurled a banner in the chamber saying “Coup against congress.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130503/venezuela-opposition-challenges-maduro-win-court