Govt seeks to ban opposition over recall ‘fraud’
THE Venezuelan government asked electoral authorities to ban the opposition coalition seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro in a recall vote, accusing them of massive fraud.
Ratcheting up the tension in a country pushed to the brink of collapse by an economic crisis, Mr Maduro’s camp hit back with a vengeance on the same day the opposition was hoping to get a green light to go ahead with its bid to hold a recall referendum.
“We have just asked for the cancellation of the registration of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, for being involved in the worst vote fraud in the country’s history,” said Jorge Rodriguez, Mr Maduro’s designated aide to monitor the recall process.
Mr Rodriguez accused the opposition of including the names of thousands of dead people, convicts and minors in a petition submitted in May with 1.8 million signatures requesting a recall vote.
The opposition has denied such charges.
July 26 was the final day for the National Electoral Council (CNE) to rule whether the opposition successfully collected at least 200,000 valid signatures, the first stage of the long and winding recall procedures.
Mr Maduro’s opponents are racing to complete the process by Jan 10, the cut-off to trigger new elections.
After that date – four years into the president’s six-year term – a successful recall vote would simply transfer power to Mr Maduro’s handpicked vice president.
Venezuela has sunk into crisis as global prices for its main export, oil, have collapsed.