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Venezuela Opposition Line Up to Support Recall of President

by VOA News June 20, 2016

Supporters of Venezuela's opposition waited in long lines Monday to verify their signatures as part of a lengthy process to request a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.

Thousands of people turned out to processing points across the country to have their fingerprints scanned - part of a requirement by the election council that those who signed for a recall vote against the president return to polling stations to verify their signatures.

Opposition leaders submitted 1 million signatures for the recall, far more than the 200,000 needed to proceed to the next step. They argue that the latest requirement to verify petitioners' signatures is part of an effort by President Maduro to stall the referendum.

The verification process continues through Friday.

If enough signatures are validated, the opposition must then try to collect the signatures of 20 percent of the electorate - around 4 million people - before a referendum can be held.

The opposition blames the socialist policies of Maduro for food and medicine shortages, soaring inflation and increasingly frequent power cuts.

Maduro was elected in a close vote in 2013 following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

The oil-rich country once was awash in money, but oil prices have fallen and so have the fortunes of Venezuela.

Venezuela's opposition is seeking to hold a recall referendum by the end of the year which, if successful, would trigger a new election. The timing is important because if the referendum is not held until 2017, and Maduro loses, he would be replaced by his vice president, effectively leaving the Socialist Party in power.

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