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Venezuela Gears up for Presidential Vote

Mérida, 17th September 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In coordination with political parties, national and international observers, and the national armed forces, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is in full preparation mode for the 7 October presidential election vote.

“Everything is ready for 7 October. We are completely sure that we’ll have a calm, civic and peaceful electoral process, as the Venezuelan people are used to,” said CNE president Tibisay Lucena last Thursday.

Lucena made the comments during a demonstration of the CNE's voting machines to diplomats from 32 countries in a factory where the machines are produced. The foreign representatives were shown how Venezuela’s new voting system functions, which is fully automated and touch-screen operated, but also prints a receipt to confirm the accuracy of the voter’s choice.

The machines for 9 of Venezuela’s 24 states have now been manufactured, with production continuing. A process is underway at the factory whereby political parties randomly select machines for pre-election auditing, to ensure the machines’ functioning and reliability.

The CNE held a workshop with national election observers on the same day in the capital Caracas. The Venezuelan Electoral Observatory, the Network of Electoral Observers, the Education Assembly and Social Project were among participating NGO organisations to be informed on the voting system, guarantees in the process, and the national observation plan for 7 October.

Lucena emphasised the importance of Venezuelans themselves supervising the electoral process, stating “the most important thing in electoral processes is the protagonism of the actors, the accompaniment of political organisations that work together with the National Electoral Council and national observers”.

Last Wednesday, the CNE announced that the participation of a total of 154 international accompaniers had been confirmed for the election. The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the African Union are also set to send electoral delegations.

Of the 154 participants, 110 are from Latin America, 65 from Europe, 29 from North America, 6 from Asia and 4 from Africa, excluding the African Union delegation.

Venezuela’s electoral system yesterday received endorsement from Brazil’s foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, who predicted that October’s vote will be “credible and transparent”. Similar comments were made last week by former US President Jimmy Carter, who also stated that President Hugo Chavez had won previous elections in the country “fairly and squarely”.

Two-time incumbent Hugo Chavez will stand against Henrique Capriles Radonski of the conservative Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition in the 7 October vote.

Plan Republic

Around 39,000 soldiers of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) are to work with the CNE to guarantee public order on voting day, confirmed yesterday Wilmer Barrientos Fernandez, commander of the FANB Operational Strategic Command.

Speaking on private TV channel Televen, Barrientos explained that FANB soldiers had undergone courses in human rights, electoral crimes, and cordially treating the public as part of their training for the Plan Republic operation.

In accord with the Venezuelan Constitution, Barrientos described the role of the FANB as “the guarantee to guard this electoral electoral process, and we will be giving security and protection [to the CNE], so that it, which is the only authorised entity to do so, announces the result which the people have said at the ballot box”.

Plan Republic has been deployed in Venezuelan elections since 1958. The armed forces were also used to guard voting centres during the opposition primary elections in February.

Published on Sep 17th 2012 at 4.19pm