Mérida, 15th April 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Nicolas Maduro was declared Venezuelan president elect this afternoon, but the opposition continues to refuse to recognise the result unless a manual recount is undertaken.
Maduro was declared by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) as winner of yesterday’s presidential election, which on the latest count gives him a victory margin of 1.8%, or 262,000 votes.
Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has refused to recognise the results and is calling Maduro “illegitimate”. He is claiming to have won and is demanding a manual recount of “every vote”.
Today the president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, announced that a manual recount would not be necessary to confirm the accuracy of the results, and highlighted that all the proper auditing checks had been undertaken.
“The candidate Capriles has announced demands upon the Electoral Power since last night and has refused to recognise the results announced by this body. That is his decision, but in Venezuela a state of law exists which must be respected,” she said.
She explained that the CNE had already audited 54% of the vote, “a statistical proportion that in any part of the world is considered excessive”, and had carried out fourteen audits before and during the electoral process to safeguard the correct functioning of the system.
Lucena invited Capriles to use the correct judicial processes to clarify any doubts he had over the result, but warned that “harassment, threats or intimidation are not the ways to appeal to the Electoral Power”.
The CNE president also criticised the comments made the OAS president José Miguel Insulza, who argued for a recount earlier today, as “an interventionist act that seeks to intervene in national sovereignty and…de-recognise the internal juridical order”.
The CNE proclaimed Maduro president-elect in a televised ceremony this afternoon.
Vicente Diaz, the only of the CNE’s five rectors considered favourable to the opposition, did not attend the ceremony, in response to his call for a manual recount being overturned.
Nevertheless, Diaz publicly stated that he had “no doubt” about the accuracy of the result, given that they had been “audited, certified, checked [and] there were witnesses present”.
In his speech, Maduro claimed that the opposition were implementing a strategy to destabilise the country and were planning to stage a coup.
“What he is doing is… calling for a…coup; in Venezuela preparations are under way for an attempt to de-recognise democratic institutions ,” he said.
The president-elect also urged state, army and the people to remain united. “We are Chavez, we are the homeland, we are the revolution,” he declared.
Following a far narrower win than expected, Maduro offered his hand to those who voted for the opposition to contribute to the construction of the nation. “I’m not Chavez…I’m Chavez’s son, I’m Chavista and I’m the first Chavista president after Hugo Chavez.”
“I’m going to fully fulfil his legacy of protecting the humble and the poor,” he said.
Maduro will be officially sworn-in as president on Friday. The act is expected to take place amid a large demonstration in support of his presidency.
Opposition response and violence
In a press conference reacting to Maduro’s proclamation as president-elect, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles reiterated that he believed he had won the election, and would not accept the official result without a manual recount.
“We aren’t proposing to refuse to recognise the will of the people, we believe that we won the election and we are asking for the right to count the votes. What’s wrong with that?” he asked.
Capriles accused Tibisay Lucena of “destroying in a matter of hours what you say you’ve achieved over these years [in the CNE]”, and flatly refused to accept the CNE or Maduro’s pronouncements, continuing to refer to Maduro as a “candidate” and “illegitimate”.
He told supporters that it was a moment “for reason, and not excitement”, and urged them not to commit violent acts, telling them that he had designed “a route..so that the right of all Venezuelans is respected”.
This “route” to pressure the government and the CNE included asking supporters to bang pots and pans in the streets at 8pm this evening as a mark of protest.
Then, tomorrow, he called upon supporters to turn up at local CNE headquarters to hand in requests for the vote to be manually recounted. On Wednesday, he said he would go to the national CNE headquarters with supporters to submit his demands personally.
Today mainly pro-opposition youth and students held protests outside of local CNE offices in some cities in the country. In Mérida, some confrontations were reported between opposition and pro-government groups, but no serious violence occurred.
According to former communications minister Andrez Izarra, the house of CNE rector Tibisay Lucena, has also been attacked.