Monday morning elected representatives of President Chavez’ party, the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), formally submitted an application to the National Electoral Council (CNE) for organizing a recall petition drive against opposition mayors and National Assembly deputies. On the top of the MVR list to recall is the Caracas Mayor Alfredo Peña, who was elected on the MVR ticket but has since become one of the President’s most outspoken opponents.
According to the rules the CNE passed last week, which regulate recall referenda, political organizations must submit an application for the organization of recall petition drives, which the CNE will then support logistically by providing petition forms and signature collection areas. The signatures may be collected in the course of four days, after which the CNE has 30 days to review the petition. If it declares the petition valid, the CNE has another 67 days to organize a recall referendum against the elected official in question.
The opposition also submited an application for a recall referendum petition, in the name of fifteen opposition parties, against President Chavez. Opposition leaders said today on a press conference, that their request for a referendum on President Chavez was introduced minutes before the request introduced by MVR National Assembly deputy Juan Barreto, to recall opposition leaders.
Enrique Mendoza, the governor of Miranda state and one of the possible opposition candidates for president, said that the opposition would not accept that the military guards the petition forms. He said they cannot participate because the petition drive “is a citizen act.” According to Mendoza, the opposition will collect signatures continuously during the 96 hours, or four days, allowed by the CNE.
If the CNE accepts the MVR and opposition petition drive applications, it would next need to decide if the petition drives and referenda would be held simultaneously. If all goes according to plan, the petition drives could be held at the end of October and the recall referenda in late February 2004.