Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has rejected official plans for an audit of the presidential vote that he narrowly lost to Nicolás Maduro this month. Capriles is calling for a fresh ballot, but this is certain to be refused by senior ruling party officials, who have threatened to have Capriles arrested for allegedly colluding with the US to foment unrest. The government detained 270 protesters during clashes that followed the disputed vote on 14 April. On Thursday it held an American film-maker who was accused of working for US intelligence to sow discord among students.
Capriles had initially expressed satisfaction with the authorities’ promise last week to audit the declared result, in which Maduro – the political heir of Hugo Chávez – won by 262,000 votes out of 14.9m cast.
But with the audit yet to begin and unlikely to meet opposition demands that it should include a detailed examination of registers containing voters’ signatures and fingerprints, the issue has flared up again.
The electoral council, which is packed with supporters of the ruling United Socialist party, has promised to compare the tallies from the computerised voting system with individual receipts, and declared the result irreversible.
Outside observers have declared the voting system to be among the best in the world. But the opposition says there have been at least 3,000 violations, including votes registered in the name of the dead, double voting, statistically unlikely 100% Maduro votes in remote communities, and intimidation of voters.