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Venezuela's state prosecutor starts probe on alleged vote rigging

Venezuela's state prosecutor on Aug. 3 said she has started an investigation into allegations that the country's election council had manipulated turnout figures in the July 30 election for a constituent assembly, Reuters reported.

Smartmatic, which provided the voting machines, said President Nicolas Maduro's government inflated the 8.1 million turnout figure by at least one million votes. The president and the election council denied the accusation.

Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega, in a statement, called the alleged vote manipulation a "grave and unprecedented action that could constitute a crime," Reuters reported.

President Maduro said the assembly will hold its first meeting on Aug. 4. Ortega is seeking a court order to block the installation of the new assembly, said The Washington Post. Venezuela's opposition leaders are also calling for a march to the center of Caracas on Aug. 4 to protest the creation of the new 545-member constituent assembly.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Maduro on July 31, while the head of the European Parliament proposed similar moves on Aug. 2.