Caracas, September 29, 2004—In a press conference yesterday, President of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Francisco Carrasquero responded to the resignation of vice-president Ezequiel Zamora by suggesting that the arguments raised by Zamora in declaring his resignation “weren’t the real reasons.” Carrasquero declined to specify what Zamora’s alleged ‘real’ reasons were for resigning, respecting the friendship that he had developed with Zamora during their tenure together in the CNE.
However, in response to accusations extrapolated from Zamora’s resignation that there have been irregularities in the CNE, Carrasquero noted “here no irregularities have occurred,” and he was quick to point out that had any irregularities occurred, Zamora would have been equally implicated since “he supported over 70% of the decisions taken by the CNE.”
Carrasquero further warned against those who would try to use Zamora’s resignation to buttress accusations of fraud in last month’s Presidential referendum, noting that Zamora himself has pointed out the lack of proof for such accusations. The insistence on accusations of fraud is part of a “strategy by certain political actors to try and discredit the organization,” said Carrasquero, “but the Electoral Power will not be destroyed by anyone,” he added. The Supreme Court will decide who Zamora’s replacement will be.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has long been ideologically split. As the center of the referendum controversy that has consumed Venezuela for the past year and a half, the CNE was not exempt. In a sense it represented a microcosm of Venezuela’s divided populace, with the CNE itself riven by a 3-2 split: three members viewed as pro-government, and two as pro-opposition.
Zamora Responds to Carresquero
In a brief statement responding to Carrasquero’s response to his resignation, former CNE vice president Ezequiel Zamora accused Carrasquero of following the ‘party line’ of government spokespersons in speculating on Zamora’s motives for resigning.
While admitting his close personal relationship with Enrique Mendoza, who until recently was one of the most visible leaders of the opposition umbrella-group the Democratic Coordinator, he denied that he had resigned in order to work in Mendoza’s campaign for re-election of Governor of the state of Miranda.
Rules for Regional Elections
Despite the absence of Zamora, the CNE finally reached a series of decisions pertaining to upcoming regional elections for mayors, governors, and city councillors. A manual count of the votes was ruled out, as the automization of the regional elections was reaffirmed. Rules regarding the substitution of candidates will be limited to extreme cases such as resignation, death, or physical or mental inability. Norms regarding publicity and propaganda where also established.