U.S. Accepts Results of Audit and Calls for National Reconciliation in Venezuela

State Department spokesperson says that as long as the opposition does not turn in concrete evidence of fraud, it is time for the opposition "to move on." The opposition, however, continues to claim that Chavez won via fraud.

Caracas, Aug.24, 2004–While the United States remains guarded in its support of President Hugo Chavez, it has accepted the results of the recent recount of votes, which shows that President Chavez’s mandate was ratified by more 59% of voters, according to Venezuela’s national electoral council, the CNE.

“In our view, the results of that audit are consistent with the results announced by the National Electoral Council on August 16th and we understand that the Electoral Council will certify the final results on August 25th,”  State Department representative Adam Ereli said. 

The U.S. government urged both the government and the opposition to establish a dialogue to resolve their differences and congratulated Venezuelans for their dedication to the democratic process. 

“The United States has been outspoken in calling for national reconciliation, in noting that Venezuela and the Venezuelan people have shown a commitment to the rule of law and to the peaceful expression of dissent and to the constitution in dealing with this political crisis.”  Ereli said. 

The spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said that the opposition should present its concerns and charges of fraud to the OAS.  “If the opposition does have concerns, if they do have evidence, additional evidence that has not been considered, that has not been weighed or taken into account, then they need to present that. Otherwise, it’s time to move on,” Ereli said, adding that the U.S wants to dispel doubts expressed by the opposition, which leads to the polarization of the country, “which is in nobody’s interest.” 

The U.S.  State Department said that it had no reason to accept the charges of fraud claimed by Venezuelan opposition leaders, given the audit conducted by the OAS and the Carter Center.  “There were charges of election fraud. In order to address those charges of election fraud, an audit was conducted. The audit did not find any basis to call into doubt the results of the elections,” Ereli said.

Asked why the U.S. government cannot press for a 100 per cent recount of votes as was done with the reelection of the President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, Ereli explained that the situations were different as Venezuela included the role of international observers that all parties supported before the referendum.

“The process agreed to in Venezuela was for the international observers, as represented by the Carter Center and the OAS, to be the accredited, responsible observers for this election. That’s what was worked out. Those are the groups that had the confidence of everybody,” said Ereli. 

Venezuelan leaders of the opposition continue claiming fraud and are calling for a 100 per cent manual recount of votes, since they have rejected the recent audit of votes conducted by the OAS and the Carter Center, claiming that computers used during the referendum were rigged by the government and the company that supplied the computers and software.