Signatures for referendum on Chavez were collected before allowed time, according to report

National Electoral Council will declare the signatures as “inadmissible”, based on input by legal consultant.

Caracas.- Reports from several media outlets indicate that the National Electoral Council (CNE) will declare the signatures the opposition submitted for a presidential recall referendum as “inadmissible”, due to the timing in which the signatures were collected.

The final decision will be taken this Friday, based on a report issued by the legal consultant of the CNE, Andrés Brito.

According to Brito’s report, the opposition request as inadmissible for being untimely, because “with all evidence” the signatures were collected prior to the moment at which the right to activate the recall referendum is effective (August 19).

The legal text presented by Brito, consisting of 22 pages, emphasizes that the lists presented by the opposition are not directed to the Electoral Power (Venezuela has five branches of Government, the Electoral being one of them) and declares that a norm on recall referenda must be presented ten working days from the approval of the ruling.

The recommendation of the consultant, which is not binding, was based on the sentences of the TSJ and article 72 of the Constitution.

Even though a request for a referendum on elected officials can be done only once, the opposition does not exhaust its right to request a referendum, because it did not fulfill the requirements for collecting signatures, in agreement with a ruling of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), the submission is not counted as a request.

The opposition coalition, know as the “Democratic Coordinator” seems to be prepared for the rejection of the signatures as they have already announced that they are working on a new campaign to gather new signatures.

It is still unknown what will be the method for verifying the signatures, within the norms for recall referenda which Brito will also draft; if it will be by sampling, according to legal conventions, or by the exhaustive verification.