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Venezuela's Biggest Opposition Party Splits from Anti-Chavez Coalition

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 19 (Venezuelanalysis.com).- Accion Democratica (AD), Venezuela’s biggest opposition party, decided to split form the Coordinadora Democratica, a coalition that groups political parties that oppose the government of Hugo Chavez.

The announcement was made by AD’s Secretary General Henry Ramos Allup, who denounced that other opposition parties have a hidden agenda. Ramos said his party will not attend any meetings of the Coordinadora Democrática coalition unless the meetings are taped or have direct media coverage.

Ramos accused other opposition parties of wanting to sabotage the process of verification of signatures (repair) for a possible recall referendum on President Chavez’s mandate. "We reject the repugnant and disloyal actions by some who say something at the meetings, and then say something totally different to the media," said Ramos.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) detected irregularities in a high percentage of the signatures collected by opponents of the President who are using their constitutional right to convoke a recall referendum. Due to the volatility of the political situation, electoral authorities have opted to ask those whose signatures contain irregularities, to come forward and confirm or deny their willingness to sign, a process they call "repair". Most opposition parties reject that process, and argue that the signatures should be accepted and the recall convoked immediately. The signature repair process has been delayed by a legal battle between two chambers of the Supreme Court over how the process should be conducted. The Coordinadora Democratica is discussing whether they will participate in the repair process.

The opposition leader said his party "won't remain silent" if other opposition parties attempt to execute a new coup d'etat like that of April of 2002. Ramos said his party is committed to the process of recall referendum and that they will follow the advice of "international organizations" and will exhaust all the legal ways to convoke the recall.

Other political parties have rejected any negotiations with electoral authorities over the signatures repair process, and have made calls to not recognize the authority of electoral authorities or the government. AD seems to be distancing themselves from radical sectors of the opposition, due to the fact that according to polls, they have great chances of winning elections in several states in the upcoming gubernatorial elections late this year.

Political analysts argue that given President Chavez's popularity, which hovers around 40% and 50%, AD, which is one of Venezuela's oldest political parties, has decided to concentrate on slowly rebuilding their credibility and popular base in order to present a solid alternative to Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections.

The shocking announcement made by AD, was largely ignored by the commercial media which opposes President Chavez. Even Globovision, an all news channel with a clear anti-government line, has given very little coverage to the announcement. Globovision's president holds strong political ties to AD.

William Ojeda, leader of the opposition party Un Solo Pueblo, also announced on Sunday that his party will not recognize the opposition coalition’s representatives at negotiation with the National Electoral Council.

Multiple rumors of a possible new coup d’etat are currently circulating in Venezuela. Army divisions rebelling, oil fields about to be sabotaged, and a new oil strike are among the rumors that are circulating, putting many on high alert. The new divisions within the opposition coalition have increased the intensity of these rumors, as some think that a section of the opposition has decided not to participate in violent episodes currently being planned in order to oust Chavez.

Published on Apr 19th 2004 at 3.35am