Caracas, August 15, 2004—In a recent press conference and in meetings with the Carter Center and the OAS, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said unequivocally that he would immediately step down as President, should he lose Sunday’s recall referendum. At the press conference he added, though, that it was “practically impossible” that he would lose.
In contrast, the opposition has said that it would only accept the results of the referendum if the OAS and the Carter Center certify the CNE results as correct.
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) and former President Jimmy Carter of the Carter Center also reported that in their meeting with the opposition coalition Democratic Coordinator (CD), that the CD had agreed not to publicize its results, presumably on the basis of exit polls, prior to the electoral council’s (CNE) announcement of the referendum’s result. However, the CD reserved the right to publicize its results should the CNE delay announcing its results “unduly, such as by more than three days.”
An earlier meeting between the Carter Center and the private and public broadcast media had already reached an agreement that none of the TV media outlets would broadcast referendum results that any organization other than the CNE announces.
Accusations on both sides against CNE about missing credentials
Opposition TV news channel Globovision broadcast news reports from various parts in the country where citizens accused the CNE of delaying or denying poll worker credentials to them. According to the reports, in some cases replacement poll workers showed up who were not originally assigned to the polling place.
Similarly, the alternative media website aporrea.org carried similar reports of missing credentials, except that these affected pro-Chavez election center witnesses.
Meanwhile, CNE board member Sobeilla Mejias, who is generally considered to be sympathetic to the opposition, held a press conference in which she reported that many election centers were not being set up on time. CNE board member Jorge Rodriguez, who is considered to be sympathetic to the government flatly contradicted Meijas a little while later, saying that the delays in some locations were within the realm of the normal and that 96% of the voting centers were all set up by Saturday night.
Rodriguez said, “Here is clear proof of what the National Electoral Council has said, that we are going to be completely ready, absolutely prepared. All that remains is for the population to sleep calmly, to rest, and to wake early in order to participate in this democratic festival.”