Venezuela vote audit, rejected by opposition, begins

April 29, 2013

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan authorities on Monday began a partial audit of the disputed election won by Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, as the opposition flatly rejected the move as insufficient.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who says he was the real winner of the April 14 presidential vote, has accused election officials of rejecting his appeal for a full recount on the orders of the ruling Socialist Party.

The National Electoral Board has ruled that President Nicolas Maduro – the leftist heir to the late Chávez – won by 1.49 percent of the vote, amending an earlier tally that had Maduro up by 1.8 percent.

The board has insisted it is legally impossible to carry out a full recount, and that no audit can reverse Maduro’s win.

The 40-year-old Capriles has said he will not accept anything short of a full recount, and in a Twitter posting on Monday he lashed out at Maduro, 50, calling him a “laggard who illegitimately has stolen the presidency.”

Capriles has until May 6 to take his fight to the Supreme Court, and is widely expected to do so. On Sunday, Capriles said he would appeal to international organizations.

Capriles – a businessman, lawyer and Miranda state governor – alleges that some voters cast multiple ballots or even used ballots belonging to people who had died.

Both the government and Capriles have urged their supporters to turn out for massive street protests planned for May 1.

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