A manual recount of votes isn’t possible in Venezuela, the head of the country’s Supreme Court said Wednesday, suggesting there is no legal basis for the opposition’s push for a ballot-by-ballot audit of the narrow presidential election results. In nationally televised remarks, Venezuelan Chief Justice Luisa Estella Morales said Venezuela’s 1999 constitution eliminated manual recounts in favor of a “system audit.” “In Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived,” she said. “The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it. Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system.”
Her comments came a day after the sounds of clanking pots and pans and bursting fireworks rang out in Caracas as tensions mounted over Venezuela’s tight election results. It was a clear sign that days after Sunday’s presidential vote, fierce political battles are far from over in the deeply divided country.
Supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski banged pots and pans to protest the government’s refusal to recount the votes, while supporters of President-elect Nicolas Maduro set off fireworks to celebrate his victory and drown out the noise. Maduro, the late President Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, is scheduled to be sworn in on Friday. Election authorities proclaimed him president-elect on Monday despite Capriles’ demand for a recount.