CARACAS – Amid persistent political tension in Venezuela, the CNE election authority accepted opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’s request for a review of 100 percent of the ballots cast in last weekend’s special presidential election.
CNE chair Tibisay Lucena said in a televised statement late Thursday that authorities would proceed to audit the 46 percent of ballot boxes that were not subject to a recount on election day.
The Venezuelan electoral system relies on electronic voting backed up by paper ballots and the CNE automatically reviews a random sample of 54 percent of the votes to detect discrepancies between the electronic tabulation and the paper records.
Voters in the oil-rich Andean nation went to the polls Sunday to choose a successor to left-leaning nationalist President Hugo Chavez, who died last month after nearly 14 years in office.
Nicolas Maduro, who became acting president when Chavez died, defeated Capriles by 50.78 percent to 48.95 percent amid turnout of 79 percent, according to the CNE, which Tuesday proclaimed Maduro as president-elect.
Capriles, however, said he would not accept the outcome without a full recount.
“Those of us here at the Simon Bolivar command (the moniker adopted by Capriles’s campaign team), accept what the National Electoral Council has announced to the country,” the candidate said in a public statement after Lucena’s appearance.
He also used the opportunity to once again blame Maduro for post-election incidents that left eight people dead, all but one of whom were government supporters.
Maduro has called on Venezuelans to stage a huge popular rally Friday to coincide with his inauguration ceremony, which is to be attended by several foreign delegations and conclude with a military parade.
The 50-year-old Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, garnered only 265,000 more votes than Capriles on Sunday.
Chavez, who died March 5 after a long battle with cancer, defeated Capriles 55.5 percent to 44.39 percent in the Oct. 7 presidential election, a difference of 1.6 million votes. EFE