CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — An annual gathering of Venezuelan socialists took an unexpected turn when the lights went out just as they were about to select President Nicolas Maduro as their party's leader.

The blackout happened Monday right as Diosdado Cabello was urging socialist party delegates to give Maduro unlimited power to "strengthen the party and revolution."

Cabello raised his hand and asked others to follow suit in electing Maduro, but the lights abruptly went out and the live television transmission cut off.

After about 20 minutes the event went back on air.

Maduro later appeared and called the incident an act of "sabotage," offering no proof except to note that other parts of the hotel never lost electricity.

He frequently blames the opposition for the beleaguered country's increasing power woes.