Caracas, November 16, 2006 (Venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) and a delegation of the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday, which will guide the EU election observer team for the December 3 presidential elections.
Ambassador Antonio García Velásquez, who will heads the EU delegation, assured that the EU team’s work will be completely independent and will contribute to Venezuela’s democratic process.
Referring to the agreement signed with the CNE, García Velásquez said, “It is an agreement that will allow us to work in complete liberty and with all requirements so that the job can be fulfilled in conformity with our stipulations.”
European Parliament member Monica Frassoni will head the EU Electoral Observer Mission and is scheduled to arrive in Venezuela in the next few days, along with 40 other EU observers. “Beginning at that moment, the mission will conduct its work in independence,” said García Velásquez. Later more EU observers will come, so that by election day there will be a total of 130 EU observers.
Nikko Pyhälä, the Finnish Ambassador in Venezuela, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union, said, “We do not expect any conflicts between what was signed and the internationally accepted norms.” Emphasizing that the mission is completely independent, he added, “It is the positions of the mission that will in the end be publicized.” “We are confident that there is a secret vote in Venezuela and it is very important that everyone participates in the election,” Pyhälä said.
During the signing ceremony CNE President Tibisay Lucena said that other observer missions that have confirmed their participation in the December 3 election will come from the Organization of American States (OAS) and experts from electoral councils of Latin America. Also, it is expected that the Carter Center will participate, but it has not yet confirmed.
Benjamin Rausseo, the businessman and well-known Venezuelan comedian known as “The Count of Guacharo,” declared his withdrawal as a candidate for the presidency. Most polls showed Rausseo in a distant third place, rarely polling more than 1.5% support from voters. Upon his withdrawal, Rausseo said, “I have a vision for this country, but for now the conditions don’t exist for me to become president of all Venezuelans.”
Rausseo also said he would not endorse either of the other two main candidates, President Chavez or Governor Manuel Rosales. “I’m withdrawing along the center line without backing anybody,” said Rausseo.
Fingerprint Scanners are Obligatory
CNE director Sandra Oblitas confirmed today that despite controversies surrounding the fingerprint scanners that are supposed to prevent double voting, it is obligatory for Venezuelan voters to use them before they vote.
Some opposition leaders have claimed that the scanners endanger the secret of the vote. However, changes have been made to the software, so that the sequence in which fingerprints are scanned cannot be discovered.
Also, other opposition leaders, in an effort to encourage voters to participate in the elections, have assured that even if the sequence could be discovered, there is no relationship between the order in which finger prints are scanned and the order in which people vote, as these constitute two different lines on voting day and scanners are not connected with or assigned to specific voting machines.