Venezuela's electoral body: No date for next phase of Nicolas Maduro recall petition

The electoral body's vice president suggested errors in the opposition's paperwork have delayed the process.
By Andrew V. Pestano  |  May 24, 2016 at 1:44 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, May 24 (UPI) -- Venezuela's National Electoral Council, or CNE, on Tuesday said no date has been scheduled for the start of the second phase of petition signature collection for the recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.

CNE Vice President Sandra Oblitas said the 30-day period given by the electoral body to the Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, opposition coalition "can not be harmed by the CNE," adding that the second phase of the recall referendum has not been scheduled.

The MUD in late April complied with the electoral council's requirement to gather enough signatures to proceed with the recall effort. The MUD collected more than 1.8 million signatures, surpassing the nearly 200,000 that were needed.

After completing the first phase of the petition process, the opposition is waiting for the CNE to provide the necessary documents to move ahead with the final phase. The MUD will need to collect signatures from 20 percent, or about 4 million, of the South American country's voting-eligible population within three days.

"We reiterate that there is still no date for 20 percent of the signatures collection. There are various irregularities and incomplete returns," Oblitas said in a statement.

Oblitas said the agency is working to verify the signatures collected by the opposition despite the more-than-required number of signatures delivered. The MUD has held tense marches demanding CNE action.

"We are within the regulatory framework. We have been taking every step to active the possible recall referendum," Oblitas said, adding that about 10 percent of referendum petitions had errors.

Oblitas said the signatures collected by the MUD "are still being verified within the parameters that the CNE has for it."

The opposition is working to hold the recall referendum in which Venezuelans will be asked whether Maduro should be removed from the presidency by the end of the year. The MUD have accused the CNE of attempting to hinder the opposition's efforts to recall Maduro.

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