Venezuela election outcome fuels protests

2013-04-16 07:55
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles burn a banner of new proclaimed President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. (Geraldo Caso, AFP)

Supporters of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles burn a banner of new proclaimed President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. (Geraldo Caso, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Caracas - Thousands of opposition supporters crammed the streets of Caracas on Monday, banging pots, burning trash bags and chanting "fraud" to protest the confirmation of Nicolas Maduro as president-elect.

The demonstration erupted as the National Electoral Council (CNE) certified the victory of Maduro against his opponent Henrique Capriles, who refused to concede defeat and demanded a full recount.

At one spot, police dispersed a group of protesters with tear gas.

"We are here because they stole our vote. They cheated us," said 60-year-old Selma Orjuela as she banged a pot. "We need Capriles to be president. That's why we voted, and we are sure we won."

With the opposition planning more protests on Tuesday and Wednesday, Maduro urged his supporters to demonstrate on the same days and "combat in peace" across the nation.

Maduro - who had voiced support for an audit of the vote shortly after the results were announced - now said that Capriles's demand for a full recount was the "whims of a bourgeois."

Capriles urges protest

Earlier, the CNE handed the certified results to Maduro, saying he defeated Capriles 50.75% to 48.97% - a difference of 265 000 votes.

The final gap was about 30 000 votes wider than initial results, but it was still the opposition's best result against "Chavismo" over the 14 years that the latter has dominated the nation, which sits on the world's largest oil reserves.

"I am the son of Chavez," Maduro said. "I am the first Chavista president after Hugo Chavez Frias, and I will fulfill his legacy to protect the poor, to protect our independence."

The 50-year-old former foreign minister accused the opposition of having a "coup mentality."

But with the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS) backing his demand for a recount, Capriles called Maduro an "illegitimate president."

Capriles, who wants the CNE to count all the backup ballots printed out by the voting machines, urged supporters to come out and protest to "let the world know our outrage, our anger."

Opposition should use ‘legal path’

The 40-year-old state governor also called on Venezuelans to peacefully protest in front of CNE offices on Tuesday to demand a full recount.

But CNE president Tibisay Lucena defended the electronic voting system, telling the opposition it should use "the legal path" instead of "threats" if it wants to contest the result, citing the 2000 US election that was decided by the Supreme Court.

In a business district known as a Capriles stronghold, protesters chanted "We see it, we feel it, Capriles president!" while waving Venezuela's yellow, blue and red flag.

"President Capriles won. They just didn't count the vote like they should have," said Elis Carvallo, aged 33, with the Venezuelan colours painted on her face.

Outside the CNE, hundreds of Chavistas dressed in red cheered and chanted "Chavez lives! The struggle goes on!" in a central Caracas square.

"We won by a hair, but we will support Maduro 100%," said Marta Rodriguez, aged 48. "Capriles asked people to trigger conflict in the country. We won't fall into provocations, but when time comes we will come out to defend Maduro."

‘Very delicate situation’

The OAS backed calls for a recount, while the White House said a full audit would be an "important, prudent and necessary step."

"In our view, rushing to a decision in these circumstances would be inconsistent with the expectations of Venezuelans for a clear and democratic outcome," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

Around the world, Chavez's closest allies - from Cuba to Ecuador, Brazil and Russia - congratulated their friend's chosen leader, one month after the charismatic Hugo Chavez lost his battle to cancer aged 58.

Cuban leader Raul Castro said his ally's victory "shows the strength of the ideas and work of Comandante Hugo Chavez."

Riding a wave of grief over his mentor's death, Maduro led opinion polls by double digits ahead of Sunday's vote, but Capriles tapped into deep discontent over rampant crime and economic weakness.

Both candidates had pledged during the campaign to recognise the result.

But Capriles - who accepted defeat when Chavez beat him by 11 points in October polls - said he had a list of some 3 200 "incidents" that took place during this vote.

Ignacio Avalos, a sociology professor at Central University of Venezuela, said the nation was in a "very delicate situation."

"Such a thin difference in a country that is so extremely polarised is hard to deal with politically," Avalos said.

Maduro is due to be sworn in on Friday to complete Chavez's six-year term, which only began in January.

Read more on:    henrique capriles  |  hugo chavez  |  nicolas maduro  |  jay carney  |  venezuela

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.