VENEZUELA’S opposition has demanded an international audit of last Sunday’s regional elections, claiming fraud in one state.
Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition parliamentary speaker Julio Borges, leader of the hardline Justice First party, claimed on Thursday to have evidence of vote-rigging in the knife-edge Bolivar state governor election.
The ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) won 18 of 23 state governorships in the October 15 election, including in Bolivar where the count took several days to complete.
There, PSUV candidate and former Bolivarian National Guard chief Justo Noguera beat Andres Velasquez by just 1,471 votes.
But a commission of MPs in the the Mud-dominated parliament alleged the figures from election council CNE did not match the the count from 11 ballot boxes.
It claimed the the inconsistencies resulted in 2,199 votes from those polling stations being awarded incorrectly to Mr Noguera.
Mr Borges demanded the CNE agree to a “comprehensive audit, qualitative and quantitative, conducted by international bodies” with independent experts.
The Mud claimed fraud as soon as the initial results were announced, prompting President Nicolas Maduro to ask the national constituent assembly to order the CNE to carry out an audit of all ballot papers.
Earlier this week senior Mud leader Henry Ramos, of the more moderate Democratic Action (AD) party to which four of the five Mud governors belong, said it was the responsibility of individual candidates to demand recounts in each state, not the coalition’s.
But on Wednesday all five boycotted their swearing-in ceremony on the grounds that it was held before the Constituent Assembly — whose authority the Mud refuses to recognise — and not state legislatures as is customary.
On Thursday Mr Maduro insisted: “The ones that do not subordinate before the national constituent assembly cannot assume their positions.
“They either show respect, or they show respect, it’s that simple.”
AD Nueva Esparta governor-elect Alfredo Diaz told Noticiero Digital his Mud colleagues should submit to the demand, saying: “If the only alternative we have left to not give up our spot is to take the oath before the [assembly] so that they do not arbitrarily take our space, we must do it.”