HAVANA TIMES— Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski filed legal recourse on Thursday to challenge the country’s recent presidential elections, narrowly won by Nicolas Maduro on April 14, DPA reported.
The motion was presented to the Electoral Hall of Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice, which must now establish a deadline for the presentation of the evidence needed to substantiate the opposition’s claims.
The aim of the motion is to have the results of these elections declared null and secure new elections, Capriles’ attorneys explained.
Capriles stated that this is just the beginning of his efforts to shed light on what occurred at the presidential elections, stressing that “no one is going to give up here.”
“Today, we submitted an electoral motion to the Supreme Court of Justice, meant to exhaust all avenues of appeal available in Venezuela. The document is 155 pages long, it’s like a book,” Capriles said during a press conference.
Capriles pointed out that he had expected Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) to keep its word and conduct a full audit of the election results, as it promised the country and those who attended the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) meeting held in Lima on April 18.
He added that the CNE, which ought to keep its doors open to the public during any audit, “believes it is above Venezuelan law, because no one can supervise them.”
He underscored that, on April 14, Maduro himself publicly agreed to a full re-count of the votes, but then changed his mind and the CNE denied auditors access to the electoral registries, where voters set their fingerprints and signatures after casting their ballots, a procedure which Capriles had considered crucial to his case.
“Since we were denied an audit under those terms, something which is an insult to Venezuelans and the presidents of the UNASUR meeting, since they mocked us and we can’t get the audit we want, I decided to move to officially challenge the elections,” he explained.
Capriles participated in the press conference accompanied by his campaign spokesperson Ramon Jose Medina and attorney Gerardo Fernandez, who told reporters that, owing to the irregularities detected, the motion aims to challenge not only the voting process, but the pre and post-election processes as well.
“We’ve advanced a motion to challenge the elections for corruption, violence and fraud. We’ve substantiated all of our allegations,” Medina said, adding that the motion also calls for the “disqualification” of Chief Magistrate of the Electoral Hall Jhannet Madriz, for having offered unfounded opinions on the matter and for her “ties” to Maduro.
The “impugnation”, if accepted, would mean that Madriz would have to abstain from hearing the matter.
Fernandez explained that the motion challenges the entire electoral process and aims to annul the results.
“We are calling for the impugnation of the procedures prior to April 14, the electoral process of the 14 and the procedures following that date. Our motion is based on the idea that elections are the backbone of democracy, but that one must vote freely and within the bounds established by the Law and the Constitution,” he told reporters.
Fernandez pointed out that the evidence proving the alleged irregularities would be presented during the proceedings.
“During these proceedings, we will prove that the electoral process is void. Our aim is to have new elections held,” he stressed.
He added that the motion to disqualify Madriz stems from her “biased stance” and from having expressed unfounded opinions about the case. In view of this, the opposition asked for the establishment of an alternative Electoral Hall for the proceedings.
He commented that the proceedings would “require time”, a term he did not wish to estimate.
“We’re out to protect the interests of those citizens who voted for Capriles on April 14. Capriles is advancing this motion in his capacity as presidential candidate. The evidence will be submitted in due course,” he explained.
Fernandez added that the motion challenges the electoral system through which votes were collected, the electoral “imbalances”, the abuse of public offices, the irregularities on Election Day and the audits conducted thereafter.
“We’ve come to say that democracy is more than voting. That elections must be held within the Law. We’re going to exhaust all official avenues of appeal, we believe in the Law and that’s why we’ve come here,” he underscored.
On April 14, the CNE announced that Maduro had secured 50.61 percent of the votes (7,586,251 votes), defeating Capriles – who secured 49.12 percent, or 7,361,512 votes – by a narrow margin of less than 1.5 percent.
Capriles refused to recognize these results and demanded a full re-count of the votes, a request which was denied by the CNE. The CNE proceeded to conduct its own audit of the electoral process, inspecting a sample of 46 percent of the votes which were not inspected on the day of the elections.
Despite questions regarding the legality of the elections raised by the opposition, Maduro was sworn in on April 19 and has already undertaken a series of official measures as president.