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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during the annual state-of-the-nation address at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015

    'Great Takeover of Caracas' Fails: Referendum to Oust Venezuela's Maduro Falters

    © AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos
    Latin America
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    On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed that his political rivals will fail to collect four million of signatures needed to trigger a recall referendum that could remove the current leader from power.

    The news came after Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) said on Monday it had gathered one percent of votes across the country needed to activate the next stage on the path to the referendum. However, now the political opposition is subjected to a much more difficult timeline, as it has to get four million people – or 20 percent of population – to sign the second petition to start an election.

    Under Venezuelan legislation, the referendum should be conducted by January 10, 2017 to make possible Maduro’s ousting and the launching of new presidential elections. Otherwise, the current leader would have to appoint his vice-president as a new president leaving Socialists in the Latin American nation in power.

    The National Electoral Council (CNE) so far hasn’t determined the deadline for the new petition which could cause delays in the process, Financial Times reported. On Tuesday the council announced that the required amount of votes will not likely be gathered to hold elections by January.

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with deputies of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV) and ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, in this handout picture provided by Miraflores Palace on January 22, 2016
    © REUTERS / Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters
    Tibisay Lucena, the CNE president, explained that the petition could be completed "around the end of October" on condition of fulfillment of all legal procedures required by law. After that, she said the electoral body will have a month to check all the signatures. And finally, opposition will be given three months to conduct a referendum.

    Maduro, speaking during his televised address on Tuesday, predicted that his rivals from Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) Party “will be defeated by the conscience of a majority of the people."

    "We're going to guarantee peace, independence, political sovereignty and the Bolivarian revolution" the Venezuelan president declared.

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (File)
    © REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    The political opposition has accused the CNE of delaying the procedures, citing the panel’s links to the government. Earlier, an inquiry into 1,326 cases of fraud during the collection of signatures was launched ensuring that the referendum won’t succeed in 2016.

    Henrique Capriles, the opposition politician called the council’s statement "an exercise in cynicism and lies" and called on people to take to the streets in a bid to accelerate the legal arrangements for conducting a referendum in 2016.

    "It [CNE] knows very well that blocking the constitutional and democratic path places Venezuela in a highly dangerous situation," Capriles said.

    Venezuela, which is heavily dependent on oil sales revenues, has been in a state of emergency since the beginning of 2016. The country’s opposition blames the shortages of food in the country on Maduro, while he says that the West is responsible for the crisis in the country.


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    election, ousting, referendum, petition, Nicolas Maduro, Caracas, Venezuela
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