Venezuela opposition claims enough signatures for recall vote
Iran Press TV
Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:45AM
Venezuelan opposition leaders say they have authenticated enough signatures on a petition to step up the campaign for a recall referendum to unseat President Nicolas Maduro.
At the end of a five-day process of checking the authenticity of signature on the petition, referendum coordinator Vicente Bello said Friday that the number of signatures had "clearly exceeded the minimum needed."
Henrique Capriles Radonski, Venezuelan opposition leader and Miranda State governor, also announced that election authorities have verified 409,313 signatures, more than double the amount required to start the proceeding against Maduro.
Venezuela's electoral council now has 20 days to review and affirm the process, with the next step requiring the collection of almost four million more signatures in just three days to call a full referendum.
The initial petition handed in on 2 May gathered nearly two million signatures, but election officials said more than a quarter of the signatures were fraudulent.
Those who signed the recall referendum petition had until Friday to have their fingerprints and identity cards checked.
The country's opposition is trying to complete the recall process by January 10, the cutoff date to trigger fresh elections in the Latin American state.
However, if the vote were to be held after 10 January - in the last two years of Maduro's mandate - he would be replaced by his vice president.
Since 2014, Venezuela has been grappling with protests against Maduro who is under fire by his critics for his handling of the economy.
The opposition blames Maduro's Socialist government for triple-digit inflation as well as shortages of food and basic goods.
The president, however, blames the problems on an "economic war" waged by the opposition with a helping hand from Washington aimed at bringing about a coup d'état in the oil-rich country.
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