Against the backdrop of demands for a recount, election authorities in Venezuela yesterday proclaimed Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro as the country’s president-elect. “It was a result that was truly fair, constitutional and popular,” Maduro declared, while criticizing opposition leader Henrique Capriles’ refusal to concede. According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Maduro secured 50.8% of votes in Sunday’s election, while opposition candidate Capriles won 49.0%. The results were certified at a ceremony in Caracas by the country’s top election official who said Venezuela’s voting system had worked perfectly.
More than 78% of the 18.9 million Venezuelans registered are said to have voted in Sunday’s presidential election, but opposition observers claim to have witnessed numerous irregularities in the April 14 poll.
Early yesterday, the opposition leader called on his supporters to protest and slammed Maduro as an “illegitimate” leader.
“If both sides have said that they want to count vote for vote, what is the rush? What are they hiding? Why do we have to accelerate the process?” Capriles said. “What they want is for the truth not to be known.”
He went on to encourage Venezuelans to bang pots and pans in peaceful protest yesterday, following-up by heading to local election offices to demand a recount today.
The opposition leader’s repeated demands for a recount raised key questions about the country’s uncertain future: Will tension in the deeply divided country boil over after the tight race? Will Maduro’s supporters stick behind him? And will world leaders recognize the results?