Maduro says company’s vote claim part of US plot

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela’s political crisis and the dispute over a rewrite of its constitution (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is accusing an international voting software firm of being part of a U.S. campaign to stain the results of the country’s election of a constitutional assembly.

Maduro told members of the newly chosen constituent assembly Wednesday night that Smartmatic bent to U.S. pressures aimed at casting doubt on the official results announced for Sunday’s vote.

Smartmatic’s CEO said earlier in the day that the government’s turnout figures were off by at least 1 million.

The nation’s electoral council has said more than 8 million people voted, but independent analysts have questioned that number.

Maduro said during the meeting Wednesday night that an additional 2 million people might have voted if they hadn’t been blocked by barricades put up by anti-government protesters.

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8:20 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the constituent assembly being granted nearly unlimited power to revamp the nation’s government won’t convene Thursday as originally planned.

Maduro says the assembly’s installation has been pushed back to Friday in order to “organize it well in peace and tranquility.” He says Venezuela’s electoral council also must still provide 35 members with their credentials.

He made the announcement Wednesday night during a meeting with nearly 500 of the new delegates.

Venezuela’s opposition boycotted the election for delegates and has promised to protest when the assembly is installed.

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5:30 p.m.

The European Union is refusing to recognize Venezuela’s new assembly tasked with rewriting the constitution, saying it could undermine the country’s institutions.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the election of the assembly amid violence over the weekend “has durably worsened the crisis in Venezuela.”

She says it raises doubts about whether the body can represent all parts of Venezuelan society.

Mogherini added Wednesday that the EU and its member countries stand ready to “gradually step up their response in case democratic principles are further undermined.”

No mention was made of any possible sanctions.

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3 p.m.

The head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council is dismissing claims that official voter turnout numbers in a critical election were manipulated.

Tibisay Lucena says allegations by voting software firm Smartmatic that the count was off by at least 1 million votes…

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