Venezuela’s authorities reject inflation claim in votes a

Venezuela’s electoral authorities have dismissed a claim that turnout in Sunday’s controversial vote for a new constituent assembly was inflated, BBC report.

The firm behind the voting system said turnout was at least one million fewer than the government figure.

But the head of the election council hit back, calling it an “irresponsible claim, with unfounded estimations”.

President Nicolás Maduro has said that the new assembly will be inaugurated on Friday.

The opposition see the assembly as an attempt by Mr Maduro to cling on to power.

They boycotted the election and also held an unofficial referendum in which they said more than seven million Venezuelans voted against the constituent assembly.

Turnout in Sunday’s poll is seen as a key indicator of the level of support the government enjoys.

The government said more than eight million people, or 41.5% of the electorate, had voted.

What are the allegations?

“It is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with,” the boss of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, told journalists in London.

He said a full audit was needed to establish the exact number of voters but he said the firm estimated there was a difference of at least one million.

But Tibisay Lucena of the election council accused Mr Mugica of trying to “raise doubt over the result of the election”.

Mr Maduro said the vote was free and fair and that it would not be tainted by “a company with its headquarters in London and its bank accounts in the United States”.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly has approved a request to open a criminal investigation into Smartmatic’s claims.

Separately, the Reuters news agency reported it had seen an internal memo from Venezuela’s electoral authorities saying fewer than four million votes had been cast just two hours before polls closed.