Venezuela:Opposition says goal achieved
The opposition gathered as many as 3.6 million signatures to request a recall referendum against President Hugo Ch├бvez, despite the intimidation by the Government and the number of difficulties imposed on the process. Only 2.4 million signatures are required to have a valid request for the recall, while the opposition would need 3.8 million votes in the referendum in order to recall Ch├бvez mandate. After this weekтАЩs petition drive, this seems like an easy goal, since the signatures in the petition are public, in contrast with the secrecy of the ballot in the actual recall. Government authorities, including the President, have been suggesting the opposition committed a тАЬMegafraudтА? during the petition drive, but OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria held a press conference with representatives from the Carter Center to say that no evidence of large scale fraud had been detected and the process had been clean and had legitimacy. Last night, Ch├бvez blasted Gaviria for taking sides and being partial to the opposition. The Electoral Board will now have thirty days to announce how many signatures were valid. Going forward, it is clear that Ch├бvez will fight the results, but the number is more than one million signatures more than required.