Venezuela’s opposition got a green light Monday to proceed with efforts to remove President Nicolas Maduro in a referendum, but the crumpling oil giant still appeared far from holding a vote. The National Electoral Council (CNE) said the opposition had collected nearly double the requirement of 200,000 valid signatures on a petition demanding the leftist leader face a recall referendum. But it did not set a date for the next stage in the lengthy process, in which the opposition must collect four million signatures in just three days. And, in a boost to the Maduro camp’s claims of rampant fraud, the council’s chief, Tibisay Lucena, said the authorities had detected more than 1,000 apparently fraudulent signatures. The opposition blames Maduro for an economic implosion that has seen severe food shortages, hyperinflation, violence and looting erupt in Venezuela, a once-booming country that is home to the world’s largest oil reserves.
The opposition is racing to force a referendum by January 10, the cutoff date to trigger new elections — four years into the president’s six-year term.
After that date, a successful recall vote would simply transfer power to Maduro’s hand-picked vice-president.
Full Article: Venezuela recall clears hurdle, but obstacles remain.