HAVANA TIMES — Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) yesterday called for new presidential elections to take place on April 14 to fill the vacancy left by the death of President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, reported dpa news.
Venezuelans are again being called to the polls only six months after Chavez was reelected with 55 percent of the vote on October 7, after which his health didn’t allow him take the oath for his 2013-2019 mandate.
The election will be a contest between interim president Nicolas Maduro (the new champion of Chavismo), and opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who the opposition alliance Mesa de Unidad Democratica (MUD) has nominated.
The president of Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, informed that the election campaign will be carried out over a 10-day period, from April 2 to 11, while applications for candidacy will only be accepted until Monday, March 11th.
On the newly designated Election Day, the ruling United Socialist Party will be represented by Maduro, who was given the nod by Chavez to be his successor in December, before the president left for Cuba to be operated on.
According to a court ruling Maduro will be allowed to hold the post of interim president while running for election, that upheld his assertion.
The executive secretary of the MUD opposition coalition, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, announced that the alliance agreed unanimously to offer the candidacy to Capriles, who ran for that office in the previous October 7 elections but lost to Chavez.
“Unity will not fail the country. We understand perfectly well that there are conditions of opportunism and inequality that the regime is determined to impose,” said Capriles, adding that the parties of the alliance will run under a unified symbol on Election Day.
Aveledo didn’t mention the statements made by Maduro on Friday night, when he suggested that due to internal problems of the opposition, they were considering not participating in the elections and boycotting them in rejection of the court ruling that upheld Maduro’s inauguration as interim president.
“What stands out (as opportunism) isn’t the shortened period, but the recent Supreme Court ruling that treats the government’s candidate as if he were a president-elect so that he can abuse power by taking advantage of his current position. We’re going to engage in a campaign against power. Those who think we’re not going to address this are mistaken,” said Aveledo.
Speaking “firmly,” he added that MUD will review the electoral conditions for the vote. He stressed: “The impartiality that we’re seeking is not a gift. It has to do with the enforcement of the law.”
Aveledo highlighted that over 33 parties are allied in the opposition coalition agreed unanimously to go into the election under a unique symbol and a single color that “expresses the unity that will support our candidate.”
“We agreed to offer the candidacy to the person who was our previous candidate, who was elected in open primaries (on February 12, 2012), which included the largest participation in history, and who was reelected as governor (Miranda state) on December 16. We have recognized Capriles as the person to embody the democratic alternative,” he said.
Lucena said the CNE is prepared to carry out the election with the “usual transparency.”
“The approval was made in compliance with the legal and technical norms for the presidential election,” he said in a message to the country.
She noted that these elections, despite their urgency, are “perfectly feasible” and she rejected criticisms by opposition sectors of alleged bias.
“The campaign will be carried out adhering to all norms. We will not allow excesses anywhere,” she said.
Some 17.4 million electors will be entitled to vote, the same voter registration rolls used for the Oct. 7 elections.