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Venezuelan opposition leader demands recount of ballots

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the nation's first elections following the passing of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has refused to concede defeat to Nicolas Maduro - and is demanding a recount.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a tighter-than-expected presidential poll, Capriles declared to Maduro that "Today's loser is you." Speaking at a news conference, Capriles added that "We won't recognize a result until every vote has been counted."

The National Electoral Council said late on Sunday that Maduro won 50.66 percent of the vote compared to 49.07 percent for Capriles, a difference of less than 300,000 ballots. If this total is accurate, it would let Maduro continue with the policies of the late Chavez, who passed away last month.

In his defense, Maduro pointed out that Venezuela uses electronic voting machines that print a paper ballot as a backup for any recounts.

"There should be no doubts about the election results. The institutions are functioning. If 7,500,000 Venezuelans said that Nicolas Maduro should be the president of the republic until 2019, this must be respected; the democracy and the power of the majority," Maduro said while addressing a crowd from the Miraflores presidential palace.

Maduro welcomes an audit. "We are calling for respect of the results. If they want do an audit they are welcome to do it. They can do whatever audit they want to do. We trust in the Venezuelan electoral system. We welcome an audit," Maduro said.

Venezuelans had anxiously waited for results with counting reportedly too close to call and both sides expressing confidence of victory.

Capriles maintains that there were attempts to let people vote after polling stations had already closed.

Turnout was 78 percent, down from just over 80 percent in the October election that Chavez won by a near 11-point margin.

"This result does not reflect the reality of what Venezuelans want and aspire to," Capriles said in Caracas. "Mr. Maduro, if you were illegitimate before, now you are more so.

"I tell you firmly, this struggle is not over. It will end when Venezuela is a prosperous country when people can live better," Capriles said.

It's not known when the recount will begin. "We demand a detailed recount in front of the world and the country," Capriles said.

Maduro has inherited Chavez's formidable electoral machinery, which helped the late leader win successive elections in 14 years, with government employees often seen handing campaign pamphlets and attending rallies in groups.

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