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Venezuela moves toward recall referendum against Maduro

Next step to ousting the president is collecting 20% of voters’ signatures

An opposition supporter calls for the recall referendum.
An opposition supporter calls for the recall referendum.Bloomberg

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Venezuela’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) said on Monday that the first two phases of the process to call a recall referendum against President Nicolás Maduro are now complete.

Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE, said the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) had garnered the initial 1% of signatories registered to vote in each of the country’s 24 provinces. She said the opposition now had two working days to petition the CNE to begin collecting the 20% of signatories required to convene the recall process.

Lucena did not say when the opposition would be able to begin collecting signatures, although MUD sources said this would mostly likely take place during the first two weeks of September.

To revoke President Maduro’s election, the opposition will have to garner more than the 7.5 million votes by which he was elected in 2013

Lucena’s appearance before the media was delayed for three and a half hours, during which time former CNE president Jorge Rodríguez, currently mayor of Caracas and a rising star in the ruling PSUV, called for the announcement to be delayed, citing “irregularities” committed during the first phase of collecting signatures. He described the recall referendum as a fraud.

Rodríguez has lodged an appeal with Venezuela’s Supreme Court to annul the petition for a recall referendum. The court is seen as the judicial wing of the PSUV and has rarely ruled against it.

Furthermore, Lucena said that the CNE would be calling on the public prosecutor’s office to look into the 1,300 cases of duplicate signatures.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of the state of Miranda and a two-times presidential candidate, immediately tweeted: “With more than 1%, let’s go for the 2nd, and mobilize the country to do so.”

Jesús Torrealba, MUD’s executive coordinator, criticized the CNE on the social networks for taking so long to approve the collection of 1% of voters’ signatures, pointing out that they had been handed in on May 2. But he added that he was confident that the recall referendum would take place this year, “under international pressure and from within Venezuela.”

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To revoke President Maduro’s election, the opposition will have to garner more than the 7.5 million votes by which he was elected in 2013. According to a recent poll, 73.4% of Venezuelans disapprove of his administration, while 64% of taxpayers would vote him out of office.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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