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CNE Clears Opposition to Request Recall Referendum in Venezuela

Caracas, August 2, 2016 ( – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Monday that it had completed the validation of the 1 percent of signatures collected by the opposition as the first step for convening a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. 

“The 24 states fulfilled the 1 percent [of signatures] expressing the will [for a recall referendum],” stated CNE President Tibisay Lucena during a press conference at the offices of the nation’s supreme electoral body in Caracas. 

Under the CNE’s 2007 statute, any party requesting a recall referendum must first collect signatures from 1 percent of the electorate of Venezuela’s 24 states.

In May, the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, submitted 1.85 million signatures from citizens in support of the recall referendum. Over the past three months the collected signatures have been subject to a rigorous verification process that culminated with the biometric validation of signees' fingerprints over the past several weeks. 

The MUD has accused the CNE of deliberately stalling the recall process in order to avoid holding a referendum this year. The CNE, for its part, has rebuked the opposition coalition for promoting violent protests in a bid to hasten the process.

This past June, the CNE revealed that 605,727 of the submitted signatures were invalid due to missing information as well as widespread irregularities, including signatures from deceased and non-existent persons, felons, and minors. 

On Monday, Lucena confirmed that 0.33 percent of all the signatures did not match with the fingerprints, amounting to 1,326 people “who are not who they say they are”.
Accordingly, the CNE will petition the Attorney General’s office to investigate the alleged cases of identity fraud, as well as the 198 persons who attempted to sign more than once.
Notwithstanding the irregularities, the CNE indicated that 1,257,759 signatures had been successfully validated, far surpassing the 1 percent threshold needed to formally begin the recall process. 

The MUD is now authorized to submit a written request to the CNE’s regional offices for a recall, at which time the electoral body will be obliged to announce a three-day window for the opposition coalition to collect signatures from 20% of the electorate necessary to trigger the referendum.

If the MUD is successful in collecting 3.9 million signatures, the CNE must convene a recall referendum within 90 days. 
In order to revoke President Nicolas Maduro via the referendum, the opposition must garner more votes than the former won in the 2013 election, which amounts to a minimum of 7,587,579 votes.

In the event of a successful recall referendum this year, new presidential elections will be held within 30 days.

If the recall referendum is not held before the close of the year, the sitting vice-president will take over as president for the remainder of the elected term.

Published on Aug 2nd 2016 at 5.38pm